Temperate grasslands are found in several locations on the Earth. They are characterized by the abundance of grasses and the absence of trees and shrubs. The temperature and climate are moderate, as indicated by the temperate designation. The amount of precipitation varies from one location to another, affecting the height of the grasses. Occasional drought conditions lead to fires which affect the climate and makeup of the grasslands.
Temperate grasslands are found in North America in the prairies and great plains of the United States and Canada. Most of these grasslands have been converted to agricultural uses. The desert grasslands of the southwestern United States are considered temperate grasslands, as are some grasslands in California. In Asia the grasslands are known as steppes, stretching from the Ukraine to the eastern parts of Russia. The puszta in Hungary and the South America grasslands in Argentina and Uruguay known as the pampas are both temperate grasslands. In South Africa temperate grasslands are known as the veld or veldt.
The temperature in temperate grasslands varies greatly depending upon the time of the year. In general, summers are hot and winters are cold. According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, the temperature in the summer can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In winter the temperature can drop to 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
Rainfall in the temperate grasslands of the world falls into the moderate category. The average is 20 to 25 inches per year, occurring mostly in late spring and early summer. An exception are the regions known as steppes, where rainfall can range from 10 to 20 inches per year. The lack of rain produces a dryer climate with shorter grasses. In the United States the precipitation can take the form of snow with occasional blizzards in the great plains and prairies. Due to the fact that the precipitation may be concentrated in one part of the year, the climate is subject to periodic drought.
Strong winds blow across the temperate grasslands. Without trees or other wind breaks, the prairies and great plains in the United States experience conditions that can disrupt and displace the soil. Farmers must take measures to ensure that dust bowl conditions do not exist. When combined with drought conditions, the windy and dry climate presents a challenging climate for the farmers and their crops.