• Taklamakan – o deserto de Gobi

    um grupo de pequenos, e hoje em dia sazonais, lagos salgados e pântanos entre o deserto de Taklamakan e o deserto de Gobi, a sul das montanhas Kuruktag, na esquina sudeste da Região Autónoma Uigur de Xinjiang, no noroeste da República Popular da China, e centrados em 40.4° N 90.8° E.

    Dunhuang is a village in western China in the Gobi desert, lying in a valley formed by the confluence of the Quilan and Beishan rivers within the Yushaquan basin. It is essentiually an oasis in the Gobi desert. In ancient times it was an important stopping place for traders, pilgrims, and other travelers to and from China via the western approaches known as the “Silk Road.” In 1987, the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang were formally designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Today, Dunhuang has become a tourist destination. But important archeological excavation and research continues.

    Lop Lake is a group of small, now seasonal salt lake sand marshes between the Taklamakan and Kuruktag deserts in the southeastern portion of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China.

    The lake system into which the Tarim River and Shule River empty is the last remnant of the historical post-glacial Tarim Lake, which once covered more than 10,000 km2 in the Tarim Basin. Lop Nur is hydrologically endorheic—it is landbound and there is no outlet. Though it was determined to be a single salt lake by ancient Chinese geographers, the lake system has largely dried up from its 1928 measured area of 3,100 km2 and the desert has spread by windblown sandy loess. This has shifted the lake system 30 to 40 kilometres westwards during the past 40 years. A partial cause for the destabilization of the desert has been the cutting of poplars and willows for firewood; in response, a reserve was established in 2003 to preserve 3,520 km2 of poplar.

    From around 1800 BCE until the 9th century the lake supported a thriving Tocharian culture. Archaeologists have discovered the buried remains of settlements, as well as several of the Tarim mummies, along its ancient shoreline. Former water resources of the Tarim River and Lop Nur nurtured the kingdom of Loulan since the second century BCE, an ancient civilization along the Silk Road, which skirted the lake-filled basin. Loulan became a client-state of the Chinese empire in 55 BCE, renamed Shanshan. Marco Polo passed near the lake, and the famous explorers Ferdinand von Richthofen, Nikolai Przhevalsky, Sven Hedin and Aurel Stein visited and studied the area. It is also likely that Swedish soldier Johan Gustaf Renat had visited the area when he was helping the Zunghars to produce maps over the area in the eighteenth century.

    On June 17, 1980, Chinese archeologist Peng Jiamu disappeared while walking into Lop Nur in search of water. His body was never found, and his disappearance continues to be one of the most mysterious events in the history of Chinese archeology. On June 13, 1996, the Chinese explorer Yu Chunshun died while trying to walk across Lop Nur.

    Gobi Desert

    The Gobi is a large desert region in Asia. It covers parts of northern and northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the southwest, and by the North China Plain to the southeast. The Gobi is made up of several distinct ecological and geographic regions based on variations in climate and topography. This desert is the fifth largest in the world.

    The Gobi is most notable in history as part of the great Mongol Empire, and as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road.

    The Gobi is a rain shadow desert formed by the Himalaya range blocking rain-carrying clouds from reaching the Gobi.

    The Gobi measures over 1,610 km from southwest to northeast and 800 km from north to south. The desert is widest in the west, along the line joining the Lake Bosten and the Lop Nor (87°-89° east). It occupies an arc of land 1,295,000 km2 in area, making it fifth largest in the world and Asia’s largest. Much of the Gobi is not sandy but is covered with bare rock.

    The Gobi has several different Chinese names, including “deserts in general” and “endless sea”. In its broadest definition, the Gobi includes the long stretch of desert and semi-desert area extending from the foot of the Pamirs, 77° east, to the Greater Khingan Mountains, 116°-118° east, on the border of Manchuria; and from the foothills of the Altay, Sayan, and Yablonoi mountain ranges on the north to the Kunlun, Altyn-Tagh, and Qilian mountain ranges, which form the northern edges of the Tibetan Plateau, on the south.

    A relatively large area on the east side of the Greater Khingan range, between the upper waters of the Songhua (Sungari) and the upper waters of the Liao-ho, is also reckoned to belong to the Gobi by conventional usage. On the other hand, geographers and ecologists prefer to regard the western area of the Gobi region (as defined above), the basin of the Tarim in Xinjiang and the desert basin of Lop Nor and Hami (Kumul) as forming a separate and independent desert, called the Taklamakan Desert.
    The Nemegt Basin in the northwestern part of the Gobi Desert (in Mongolia) is famous for its fossil treasures, including early mammals, dinosaur eggs, and even prehistoric stone implements, some 100,000 years old.