Cold desert climate (BWk)

Cold desert climate (BWk)

BWk :  B = Arid  W = Desert  k = cold arid



Cold desert climates (BWk) usually feature hot (or warm in a few instances), dry summers, though summers are not typically as hot as hot desert climates. Unlike hot desert climates, cold desert climates tend to feature cold, dry winters. Snow tends to be rare and sporadic in regions with this climate. The Gobi Desert in Mongolia is one great example of cold deserts. Though hot in the summer, it shares the very cold winters of the rest of Central Asia. Cold desert climates are typically found at higher altitudes than hot desert climates and are usually drier than hot desert climates.


Regions with desert climate. Source: wiki commons


Köppen–Geiger climate classification map for desert climates - source: wikicommons, authors:  Beck, H.E., Zimmermann, N. E., McVicar, T. R., Vergopolan, N., Berg, A., & Wood, E. F., 2018

Cold desert climates are typically located in temperate zones, usually in the leeward rain shadow of high mountains, which restricts precipitation from the westerly winds. An example of this is the Patagonian Desert in Argentina bounded by the Andes ranges to its west (e.g. El Plumerillo Airport). In the case of Central Asia, mountains restrict precipitation from the eastern monsoon. The Kyzyl Kum, Taklamakan and Katpana deserts of Central Asia are other major examples of BWk climates (e.g. Actau Airport (formerly Shevchenko-Central)). The Ladakh region, and the city of Leh in the Great Himalayas in India also have a cold desert climate (e.g. Leh/Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe Airport). In North America the cold desert climate occurs in the drier parts of the Great Basin Desert and in the Bighorn Basin in Big Horn and Washakie Counties in Wyoming. The Hautes Plaines, located in the northeastern section of Morocco and in Algeria is another major example of a cold desert climate. The Absheron Peninsula in eastern Azerbaijan is also an example of a cold desert climate.

Arctic and Antarctic regions also receive very little precipitation during the year, owing to the exceptionally cold dry air freezing most precipitation ; however, both of them are generally classified as having polar climates because they have average summer temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F) 

Flight safety and planning considerations

High ambient temperatures can have a significant and limiting impact on aircraft and human performance, as well as causes significant maintenance issues. See the related articles on Hot Weather Operations and Hot and High Operations. When temperatures fall overnight, and the elevation is high, temperature error correction may be relevant


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