AskDefine | Define steppes

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of steppe

Extensive Definition

In physical geography, a steppe ( - , - /stɛp/, - tal, - /dɑlɑ/), pronounced in English as /stɛp/, is a plain without trees (apart from those near rivers and lakes); it is similar to a prairie, although a prairie is generally considered as being dominated by tall grasses, while short grasses are normal in the steppe. It may be semi-desert, or covered with grass or shrubs or both, depending on the season and latitude. The term is also used to denote the climate encountered in regions too dry to support a forest, but not dry enough to be a desert. The term steppe originally comes from the Russian word /stɛp/ which means a flat and arid land.
Steppes are summarized by a continental climate or land climate. Peaks can be recorded in the summer of up to 40 °C and in winter -40 °C. Besides this huge difference between summer and winter, the differences between day and night are also very great. In the highlands of Mongolia, 30 °C can be reached during the day and sub-zero temperatures at night.
Also, the mid-latitude steppes can be summarized by hot summers and cold winters, averaging 250-500 mm (10-20 inches) of rain or equivalent in snowfall per year. In tropical locations, necessary rainfall to separate steppes from true deserts may be half as much again due to greater evapotranspiration.

Two types of steppe

Around the world, two types of steppe can be recorded:
  • the dry steppe
  • the temperate steppe
This division can further be divided in other subdivisions; as can be seen here
Other types of Steppe include Shrub-steppe and Alpine-steppe.


The world's largest zone of all steppes, often referred to as "the Great Steppe", is found in southwest Russia and neighbouring countries in Central Asia, stretching from Ukraine in the west to the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea. To the east of the Caspian Sea, the steppes extend through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to the Altai, Koppet Dag and Tian Shan ranges. The vast Eurasian Steppe, as it is called, incorporates all of these steppes. The area is bordered in the north, on the eastern side of the Urals, by the forested West Siberian Plain taiga, extending nearly as far as the Arctic Ocean.
Other regions of steppes include transition zones between savanna and severe desert such as the Sahel that fringes the true Sahara or similar semi-arid lands that fringe the Thar desert of the Indian subcontinent or the more severe deserts of Australia.
Another large steppe area is located in the central United States and western Canada. The High Plains steppe is the westernmost part of the Great Plains region. A significant steppe, noteworthy for not grading into desert, is the Sertão of northeastern Brazil.
Some steppes are to be found in transition zones between zones of Mediterranean climate and desert, such as Reno, Nevada, and in places cut off from adequate moisture due to rain shadow effects such as Zaragoza, Spain.



Ecology and conservation of Steppe-Land birds

See also

steppes in Bulgarian: Степ
steppes in Chuvash: Çеçенхир
steppes in Czech: Step
steppes in Danish: Steppe (biotop)
steppes in German: Steppe
steppes in Modern Greek (1453-): Στέπα
steppes in Spanish: Estepa
steppes in Esperanto: Stepo
steppes in Basque: Estepa
steppes in French: Steppe
steppes in Galician: Estepa
steppes in Korean: 스텝
steppes in Ido: Stepi
steppes in Indonesian: Stepa
steppes in Italian: Steppa
steppes in Hebrew: ערבה (גאוגרפיה)
steppes in Georgian: ველი
steppes in Dutch: Steppe
steppes in Japanese: ステップ (地形)
steppes in Norwegian: Steppe
steppes in Norwegian Nynorsk: Steppe
steppes in Occitan (post 1500): Estèpa
steppes in Polish: Step
steppes in Portuguese: Estepe
steppes in Romanian: Stepă
steppes in Russian: Степь
steppes in Slovenian: Stepa
steppes in Serbian: Степа
steppes in Finnish: Aro
steppes in Swedish: Stäpp
steppes in Vietnamese: Thảo nguyên
steppes in Turkish: Bozkır (coğrafya)
steppes in Ukrainian: Степ
steppes in Chinese: 沙地
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1