Climate: Dry

Although the scarcity of water resources in dry climates makes them inimical in modern times for habitation and settlement, dry climates were more favorable for early civilizations. Dry climatic conditions provided a suitable niche for the establishment of Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlements as debilitating waterborne diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis, which inflict the more humid areas, were less common in arid and semiarid zones.

Flaming mountain, Xinjiang, in northwestern China. Cut off from marine climatic influences and surrounded by high mountains, the region has a dry climate and is extremely hot in summer.

Source: Xiaoping Liang/iStockphoto.

Dry climates have unique qualities, both majestic and fearsome, that have intrigued travelers and investigators alike (see photo). Some hyperarid climates have almost Martian-like landscapes with distinct aeolian features. These climates ...

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