The named deserts of Australia cover 1,371,000 km2 (529,000 sq mi), or 18% of the Australian mainland, but about 35% of the Australian continent receives so little rain, it is effectively desert. The deserts in Australia are primarily distributed throughout the western plateau and interior lowlands of the country. The deserts in western Australia are well explained by the little evaporation of the cold sea current of the West Australian Current, of polar origin, which prevents significant rainfall in the interior of the continent.
By international standards, Australian deserts receive relatively high rates of rainfall. No weather station situated in an arid region records less than 100 mm of average annual rainfall. The deserts of Australia, particularly in the interior, lack any significant summer rains.
Deserts are not necessarily completely devoid of vegetation, but have large areas where vegetation is very limited in height or extent.
|Desert||State/Territory||Area (km2)||Area (miles2)||Area rank||% of Australia|
|Great Victoria Desert||Western Australia, South Australia||348,750 km2||134,650 sq mi||1||4.5%|
|Great Sandy Desert||Western Australia||267,250 km2||103,190 sq mi||2||3.5%|
|Tanami Desert||Western Australia, Northern Territory||184,500 km2||71,200 sq mi||3||2.4%|
|Simpson Desert||Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia||176,500 km2||68,100 sq mi||4||2.3%|
|Gibson Desert||Western Australia||156,000 km2||60,000 sq mi||5||2.0%|
|Little Sandy Desert||Western Australia||111,500 km2||43,100 sq mi||6||1.5%|
|Strzelecki Desert||South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales||80,250 km2||30,980 sq mi||7||1.0%|
|Sturt Stony Desert||South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales||29,750 km2||11,490 sq mi||8||0.3%|
|Tirari Desert||South Australia||15,250 km2||5,890 sq mi||9||0.2%|
|Pedirka Desert||South Australia||1,250 km2||480 sq mi||10||0.016%|
Australia's climate is mostly determined by the hot, sinking air of the subtropical high-pressure belt. Dry conditions are associated with an El Niño–Southern Oscillation in Australia. Vegetation in arid areas is primarily dependent upon soil type.
Many introduced species have affected the fauna and flora of Australia's desert regions. The Australian feral camel affects native vegetation, partly because Australian desert vegetation evolved without any major herbivores present. Uncontrolled access to more sensitive areas by four-wheel-drive vehicles is also an issue.
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