002 - Hot and Arid Environments

Geographic Knowledge and Understanding

Relief and climatic characteristics that make environments extreme, including unreliability and intensity of rainfall in arid environments and the risk of flash floods.

How relief, climate, human discomfort present challenges for human habitation and resource development.

Key Concepts

The extreme nature of some locations help to define them as a place. Their extreme nature means that they be infamous, newsworthy or even tourist destinations. The power of physical processes led to the extreme nature of these hot and arid locations. The possibilities associated with climate change is likely to lead to the hot, arid areas expanding or becoming even hotter and more arid which could make human habitation even more challenging.


To be able to describe the relief and climatic characteristics that make hot and arid environments extreme.
To be able to explain the unreliability and intensity of rainfall in arid environments.
To be able to explain the risk of flash floods in hot arid environments.
To be able to describe and explain how relief, climate can create human discomfort, challenges for human habitation and resource development in hot, arid areas.
To give detailed examples for hot environments and flash flooding.

Key Terminology

  • Flash floods
Define the key term above using the useful link below.

Useful Link

Activity One - Describe - Arid

The first syllabus point is asking for you to describe what deserts look like (but not landforms at this stage) and to describe their general climates. Deserts can look different depending on where they are located but there are generalisations that can still be made. 

  1. What are the key climatic characteristics of arid and semi-arid environments? Use the first youtube clip to answer this question and then the textbook 'Arid Environments' by Lucy Cole to help flesh out your answer. 
  2. Why does such extreme heat affect the human body so badly? Read the article by Scientific America in the 'Useful Resources' section below.
  3. Why do arid environments have unreliable precipitation events?
  4. What is the relief like in arid environments. Use the second youtube clip to answer the question.

Deserts: Global Environments

Top Gear - Desert


Useful Resources

Taken From: https://www.bookdepository.com/Arid-Environments-Advanced-Topic-Master-Lucy-Cole/9781444108347
Pages 17-32 (don't worry there are pictures!)

Taken From: https://www.google.ch/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwj3teiCvp3WAhUBuxQKHc9mA1gQjxwIAw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ibbookshop.co.uk%2Fproduct%2Four-dynamic-planetstephen-codrington%2F&psig=AFQjCNFFjVv3u3F_30Xulh8uO1A-Rr9_Xw&ust=1505231386247398
Pages 269-272

Activity Two - Describe and Explain - Flash Floods

Flash floods have an amazing source of energy to change the landscape it is flowing through. The syllabus point is asking you to consider the following things: Why do flash floods happen? What conditions are needed for the flooding to occur?
  • Watch the clip below and describe what you see.

Flash Flood - Southern Utah

  1. What are the causes of flash floods in desert regions?
  2. Read the article below and make notes on why flash floods are a relevant natural hazard for geographers to study. Don't forget to write about the location and why it is susceptible to flash flooding.

Activity Three - Challenges

While it is all well and good to know what makes arid areas dry and hot the information you have learnt becomes more powerful when you link it to human habitation and resource exploitation.
  1. How do the characteristics of extreme environments create challenges for resource exploitation and habitation? Use the padlet below to share your ideas.
  2. Once we have shared our ideas make a copy for your notes.

Made with Padlet

Activity Four - Detailed Example

You are now going to link your the key ideas of this lesson together by creating a detailed example for a specific desert. Remember a detailed example is between one and two paragraphs in length. If you bullet point your detailed example it should include no more information than can fit on an A6 piece of paper. For a detailed example you need to include the following things:
                • Desert name
                • Location
                • Description of the climate
                • Description of the relief
                • State whether there is human habitation and whether there is resource extraction occurring.

Exam Style Question

Using a single detailed example of a hot and arid location outline the climatic characteristics that make it extreme. [1+2]