In physical geography, a "steppe" (German [] , from _ru. степь - IPA-ru|sʲtʲepʲ "a flat and arid land", _uk. степ - IPA|/stɛp/, _mn. тал - tal, _kk. дала - IPA|/dɑlɑ/), pronounced in English as IPA|/stɛp/, is a grassland plain without trees (apart from those near rivers and lakes). The prairie (especially the shortgrass prairie) can be considered a 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.

Steppe are characterized by a continental and dry 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.

Two types of steppe

Two types of steppe can be recorded [ [ Ecological Subregions of the United States] ] :
* the temperate steppe, the "true" steppe, found in continental areas of the world; it can further be divided in other subdivisions; as can be seen [ here]
* the subtropical steppe, a similar association of plants that can be found in the driest areas with a Mediterranean-like climate; it has usually a short wet period.

Peculiar types of steppe include Shrub-steppe and Alpine-steppe.


Temperate 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, 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.

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.

Patagonia is another land dominated by a steppe. A relatively small steppe can be found in New Zealand, in the inner part of the South Island and in Hungary (the Puszta).

ubtropical steppe

In Europe, some Mediterranean areas have a steppe-like vegetation, such as central Sicily and central-eastern Spain, especially the southeastern coast (around Murcia) and places cut off from adequate moisture due to rain shadow effects such as Zaragoza.

In Asia, a subtropical steppe can be found in semi-arid lands that fringe the Thar desert of the Indian subcontinent; in Australia it can be found in a belt surrounding the most severe deserts of the continent and around the Musgrave Ranges.

In North America this environment is typical of transition areas between zones with a Mediterranean climate and true deserts, such as Reno, Nevada and the inner part of California; In South America the most important zone with a warm steppe is the Pampa.

Tropical grasslands and shrublands similar to steppe

Other zones dominated by grasslands and shrublands similar to steppe can be found in tropical areas of the world. In these locations, necessary rainfall to separate steppes from true deserts may be half as much again due to greater evapotranspiration. These include transition zones between savanna and severe desert such as the Sahel that fringes the true Sahara.

Another significant "tropical steppe", noteworthy for not grading into desert, is the Sertão of northeastern Brazil.



* [ "Ecology and Conservation of Steppe-land Birds"] by Manuel B.Morales, Santi Mañosa, Jordi Camprodón, Gerard Bota. International Symposium on Ecology and Conservation of steppe-land birds. Lleida, Spain. December 2004.ISBN 84-87334-99-7

ee also

*Coastal plain
*Coastal prairie
*Field (agriculture)
*Flooded grasslands and savannas
*Forest steppe
*Wet meadow

External links

*cite web|title=The Steppes|url=|publisher=barramedasoft corporation|date=1998-2008|format=html|accessdate=2008-04-04

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • steppe — [ stɛp ] n. f. • step 1679; rare av. XIXe; russe step ♦ Grande plaine inculte, sans arbres, au climat sec, à la végétation pauvre et herbeuse. La steppe russe. ⇒ toundra. Steppes d Asie centrale. Steppes d Amérique du Sud (⇒ pampa) , du Nord (⇒… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Steppe — du Kazakhstan au début du printemps La steppe (du russe : степь, step) est une région d Asie centrale qui est un exemple de biome des zones tempérées nommé …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Steppe — Steppe, n. [From Russ. stepe, through G. or F. steppe.] One of the vast plains in Southeastern Europe and in Asia, generally elevated, and free from wood, analogous to many of the prairies in Western North America. See {Savanna}. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Steppe — Sf std. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus russ. step , das unklarer Herkunft ist.    Ebenso nndl. steppe, ne. steppe, nfrz. steppe, nschw. stäpp, nisl. steppa. ✎ Ladendorf, O. ZDW 7 (1905), 48; Wick (1939), 56f.; Bielfeldt (1965), 16; DF 4… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Steppe — (v. russ.), eine Ebene, welche ohne Baumwuchs ist, aber, im Gegensatz zur Wüste (s.d.), sich in der guten Jahreszeit mit Graswuchs bedeckt u. daher oft gute Weide gewährt. Die S. kann sowohl Tief wie Hochebene sein; das Klima der S n ist meist… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Steppe — (v. russ. stepj, »flaches, dürres Land«), in der Erdkunde Bezeichnung für ausgedehnte Ebenen, die nur mit Gras und Kräutern bewachsen sind oder wegen Mangels an Bewässerung keinen Anbau gestatten (vgl. Ebene). Die Steppen stellen mannigfaltigste… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Steppe — Steppe, aus dem Russischen, baumlose Ebene, mit Gras u. Kräutern bewachsen, oder auch öde und dürr; die Flüsse u. Seen darin (S.nflüsse, S.nseen) sind meistens salzhaltig …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Steppe — Steppe,die:⇨Einöde(1) SteppeÖde,Einöde,Ödland,Savanne,Wüste,Pampa,Puszta,Wildnis,Wüstenei,Grasland,Prärie …   Das Wörterbuch der Synonyme

  • steppe — [step] n [U and C] also the steppes [Date: 1600 1700; : Russian; Origin: step] a large area of land without trees, especially in Russia, Asia, and eastern Europe …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • steppe — vast treeless plain of southeastern Europe and of Asia, 1670s, from Rus. *step , of unknown origin …   Etymology dictionary

  • Steppe — Steppe: Die Bezeichnung für eine weite, meist baumlose, mit Gras oder Sträuchern spärlich bewachsene Ebene wurde im 18. Jh. aus gleichbed. russ. step᾿ entlehnt …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

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