Patagonian Desert

Patagonian Steppe landscape
A satellite image of the Patagonian Desert by NASA World Wind
Astronaut photography of the Patagonian Desert (most of the view) contrasted with the Limay River, seen flowing eastward from the Andes.
Barren Patagonian Desert at the Bosques Petrificados National Park
Like Rada Tilly, on the Atlantic Ocean, most of the larger settlements in the steppe are located along the coast.

Largest desert in Argentina and is the 8th largest desert in the world by area, occupying 673,000 square kilometers .

- Patagonian Desert
Patagonian Steppe landscape

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Patagonia

Patagonia refers to a geographical region that encompasses the southern end of South America, governed by Argentina and Chile.

Patagonia refers to a geographical region that encompasses the southern end of South America, governed by Argentina and Chile.

Río Negro Province, Argentina.
Ainsworth Bay and Marinelli Glacier, Chile.
View of Punta Arenas, Chile, in winter
Santa Cruz Province
Black-browed albatross, near Ushuaia
Map of the indigenous peoples of Southern Patagonia
Cueva de las Manos site in Santa Cruz, Argentina
Nao Victoria, the replica of the first ship to pass through the Strait of Magellan
An 1840s illustration of indigenous Patagonians from near the Straits of Magellan, from Voyage au pole sud et dans l'Océanie by French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville
Tehuelche warriors in Patagonia
Map of the advance of the Argentine frontier until the establishment of zanja de Alsina
Under General Roca, the Conquest of the Desert extended Argentine power into Patagonia
Tierra del Fuego sheep ranch, 1942: The region's primary activity then, it has been eclipsed by the decline in the global wool market as much as by petroleum and gas extraction.
Gauchos mustering sheep in Patagonia
Whale watching off the Valdes Peninsula
La Trochita on its Chubut Province route: Formerly the sole rapid transport means in the province, La Trochita is now a tourist attraction.

The region comprises the southern section of the Andes Mountains with lakes, fjords, temperate rainforests, and glaciers in the west and deserts, tablelands and steppes to the east.

Subdivisions of the Miocene

Miocene

First geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about .

First geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about .

Subdivisions of the Miocene
Japan during the Early Miocene
The Mediterranean during the Late Miocene
The dragon blood tree is considered a remnant of the Mio-Pliocene Laurasian subtropical forests that are now almost extinct in North Africa.
Cameloid footprint (Lamaichnum alfi Sarjeant and Reynolds, 1999; convex hyporelief) from the Barstow Formation (Miocene) of Rainbow Basin, California.
Fossils from the Calvert Formation, Zone 10, Calvert Co., MD (Miocene)
A Miocene crab (Tumidocarcinus giganteus) from the collection of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis

As the southern Andes rose in the Middle Miocene (14–12 million years ago) the resulting rain shadow originated the Patagonian Desert to the east.

Effect of a rain shadow

Rain shadow

Area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its leeward side.

Area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its leeward side.

Effect of a rain shadow
The Tibetan Plateau (center), perhaps the best example of a rain shadow. Rainfalls from the southern South Asian monsoon do not make it far past the Himalayas (seen by the snow line at the bottom), leading to an arid climate on the leeward (north) side of the mountain range and the desertification of the Tarim Basin (top).
The Atlas mountains' (top) rain shadow effect makes the Sahara even drier.
The mountain ranges on the eastern side of Madagascar provide a rain shadow for the country's western portion.
The eastern regions of the Western Ghats lie in a rain shadow, receiving far less rainfall.
Most of Iran is rain-shadowed by the Alborz mountains in the north (just south of the Caspian sea), hence the country's mostly (semi) arid climate.
Lake Urmia (centre) and surrounds rain-shadowed by the snowy Zagros mountains to the west.
Cantabrian Mountains in the north, which rain-shadow most of Spain.
The Cascade Range to the North, the California Coast Ranges to the West and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the East provide a significant rain-shadow for the inland North American deserts.
The Atherton Tableland rain-shadowing the dry Tablelands Region in Queensland (bottom-right).
The Southern Alps in New Zealand rain shadow the eastern side of the South Island.
The Andes mountains block rain and moisture from the Amazon basin to the west (Bolivia).

Cuyo and Eastern Patagonia is rain shadowed from the prevailing westerly winds by the Andes range and is arid. The aridity of the lands next to eastern piedmont of the Andes decreases to the south due to a decrease in the height of the Andes with the consequence that the Patagonian Desert develop more fully at the Atlantic coast contributing to shaping the climatic pattern known as the Arid Diagonal. The Argentinian wine region of Cuyo and Northern Patagonia is almost completely dependent on irrigation, using water drawn from the many rivers that drain glacial ice from the Andes.

Conquest of the Desert, by Juan Manuel Blanes (fragment showing Julio Argentino Roca, at the front)

Conquest of the Desert

Conquest of the Desert, by Juan Manuel Blanes (fragment showing Julio Argentino Roca, at the front)
Mapuches during a malón raid
Map of the advance of the Argentina frontier until the establishment of zanja de Alsina
The changing state of Argentina

The Conquest of the Desert (Conquista del desierto) was an Argentine military campaign directed mainly by General Julio Argentino Roca in the 1870s with the intention of establishing dominance over the Patagonian Desert, inhabited primarily by indigenous peoples.

Iceberg at Lake Argentino's northern arm

Los Glaciares National Park

Federal protected area in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.

Federal protected area in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.

Iceberg at Lake Argentino's northern arm
Iceberg floating in the Argentino Lake near the Upsala Glacier
Aerial view of Cerro Torre (left) and Mount Fitz Roy
Part of the 100 meter wall of the Spegazzini Glacier falling
Partial satellite view of the park
The Viedma Glacier flowing into Lake Viedma (NASA)

Established on 11 May 1937, it hosts a representative sample of Magellanic subpolar forest and west Patagonian steppe biodiversity in good state of conservation.

Map of Laguna Blanca in Neuquen Province

Laguna Blanca National Park

National Park in the west of the, close to the town of Zapala.

National Park in the west of the, close to the town of Zapala.

Map of Laguna Blanca in Neuquen Province

The lagoon is situated in the Patagonian steppe, surrounded by hills and gorges.

The park is home to large colonies of Magellanic penguins.

Monte León National Park

Federal protected area in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.

Federal protected area in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.

The park is home to large colonies of Magellanic penguins.
Monte Cabeza de León ("Lion Head Mount"), the rock formation the park is named for
Sandstone cliffs over the park's beach
Beach in low tide
Beach in low tide
A herd of guanacos in the neighboring grasslands

The Patagonian steppe, while barren at first glance, is inhabited by a considerable variety of plants.

Desert near Barreales lake, Neuquén Province

Argentine Monte

Ecoregion of dry thorn scrub and grasslands in Argentina.

Ecoregion of dry thorn scrub and grasslands in Argentina.

Desert near Barreales lake, Neuquén Province
Mara breastfeeding in the Sierra de las Quijadas National Park
Los Cardones National Park
Rock wall in Sierra de las Quijadas National Park

The ecoregion merges into the Patagonian steppe in the south and southwest.

Natural grasslands next to the road to Cerro Castillo.

Patagonian grasslands

Ecoregion in the south of Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands.

Ecoregion in the south of Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands.

Natural grasslands next to the road to Cerro Castillo.
The critically endangered hooded grebe
Grassland in the Falkland Islands

To the north the grasslands adjoin the Patagonian steppe ecoregion.

Hiking along the Aviles Valley Trail, Patagonia National Park

Patagonia National Park (Chile)

Private nature reserve operated as a public-access park in the Aysén Region of Chile.

Private nature reserve operated as a public-access park in the Aysén Region of Chile.

Hiking along the Aviles Valley Trail, Patagonia National Park

The heart of the park is the Chacabuco Valley, a biologically important east-west valley that forms a pass over the Andes Mountains and a transition zone between the Patagonian steppe grasslands of Argentinian Patagonia and the southern beech forests of Chilean Patagonia to the west.