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Name: Tyra
Status: student
Grade: 4-5
Location: GA
Country: N/A
Date: 11/15/2005


Question:
Why is it so hot in the daytime in deserts and so cold at night?


Replies:
Tyra,

For the same reasons.

First, deserts are very dry and clear skies are normal. The desert soil absorbs much of the Sun's energy because there is so little water to evaporate (energy is needed to evaporate water). That energy is then radiated to the air (as long wavelengths, infrared) from the hot desert soil; the air absorbs the energy and becomes hot.

At night, the dry air and clear sky allow energy to radiate out towards space. There is little water vapor in the air (water vapor is a good absorber of infrared energy) and so the air loses energy and cools. The types of soils typically found in deserts (sand, with little organic material) loses energy easily and therefore the desert can cool off very quickly at night.

David R. Cook
Climate Research Section
Environmental Science Division
Argonne National Laboratory


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