Chinese Geography: Readings and Maps | Asia for Educators | Columbia University
The Gobi Desert is a vast desert spanning parts of Southern Mongolia and Northern China. The word "Gobi" itself means “very large and dry” in the Mongolian. Gobi: Gobi Desert, great desert and semidesert region of Central Asia that stretches across large parts of Mongolia and China. The Alxa Plateau is situated between the China-Mongolia border to the north, the Huang He and Helan. The Gobi is a rain shadow desert formed by the Himalaya range, which prevents The eastern side of the desert is fringed by the Sinkiang region, a large basin that extends The Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia, China.
In addition to the plants found in the East Gobi, the lakes of this region support a thriving aquatic community complete with marine animals and water-dwelling plant forms. Lakes and marshes also provide a valuable habitat for bird communities. In regard to the mammalian occupants of the Gobi Lakes Valley, most of the species are able to survive in the difficult terrain by using the terrain to their best advantage.
- Gobi Desert
- Hazards and Human-Environment Systems in the Gobi Desert, Asia
Common species found in the Gobi include: Midday gerbil, dwarf hamster, long-eared hedgehog, and the Tibetan hare. Smaller animals like these are able to hide in the shade during the heat of the day and avoid direct exposure to the glaring midday sun.
What Animals Live In The Gobi Desert?
Some larger animals, however, also choose to make the Gobi Lakes Valley Desert Steppe their home, including black-tailed Gazelle, Mongolian gazelle, and wild mountain sheep in the more mountainous regions. Alternatively defined ecoregions Alternative sources recognize ecoregions in the Gobi with the following definition: It includes the Yin Mountains and many low-lying areas with salt pans and small ponds.
It is bounded by the Mongolian-Manchurian grassland to the north, the Yellow River Plain to the southeast, and the Alashan Plateau semi-desert to the southeast and east.
The Alashan Plateau semi-desert lies west and southwest of the Eastern Gobi desert steppe. It consists of the desert basins and low mountains lying between the Gobi Altay range on the north, the Helan Mountains to the southeast, and the Qilian Mountains and northeastern portion of the Tibetan Plateau on the southwest.
The Gobi Lakes Valley desert steppe ecoregion lies north of Alashan Plateau semi-desert, between the Gobi Altay range to the south and the Khangai Mountains to the north. The Junggar Basin semi-desert includes the desert basin lying between the Altay mountains on the north and the Tian Shan range on the south. It includes the northern portion of China's Xinjiang province and extends into the southeastern corner of Mongolia.
The Alashan Plateau semi-desert lies to the east, and the Emin Valley steppe to the west, on the China- Kazakhstan border. The Tian Shan range separates the Junggar Basin semi-desert from the Taklamakan Desertwhich is a low, sandy desert basin surrounded by the high mountain ranges of the Tibetan Plateau to the south and the Pamirs to the west. The Taklamakan Desert ecoregion includes the Desert of Lop. Sands of the Gobi Deserts Despite the fact that much of the Gobi desert consists of gravel or rocky terrain, the few sand dunes that do exist continue to draw scientific inquiry and tourists alike.
There are two major theories about the origins of the sand dunes in Mongolia. One theory, which is the more popular theory among scientists, states that the sands were carried into the desert on wind currents, much the way that water can carry sand.
This theory has gained popularity as science has been able to track wind currents in the region, and the sand dunes have been proven to have developed along traditional wind paths. While this is the more predominant theory, an alternative idea exists that claims the sand dunes were originally a product of water erosion. Climate The Gobi Desert is noted for its extreme temperature variation, with days commonly dipping from sweltering midday heat to freezing temperatures at night.
During the winter, the Gobi Desert experiences extremely low temperatures that are not found in other surrounding areas of China and Mongolia. The reason for the the cooler temperatures, like the formation of the sand dunes, is theorized to be the result of the strong winds that sweep across the plains of the Gobi Desert.
Unstopped by any significant mountain formations, the winds add a chill to the temperature that makes life in the winter Gobi Desert particularly difficult. The high temperatures bring with them the promise of rainwhich is much needed for the inhabitants of the desert.
While a welcome respite from the heat, the rains never seem to last long enough, annually only dropping about 4 to 6 inches to mm on the plains.
Conservation efforts The grasslands of the Gobi Desert are under extreme threat and may one day completely disappear if current practices in the region continue. The main culprit for the degradation of the grasslands is overgrazing by goats in the region, whose sheering fetches a high price in the form of cashmere. The Lop Nuer was seen as the final residue of this formerly large lake.
The dunes were thought to be formed along the old shorelines. Alluvial fans and fluvial deltas were aggregated both in the south and in the north of the Taklamakan Desert during the Quaternary.
The lake was restricted only in the area of Lop Nuer Zhu et al. This reconfirms the complexities and challenges a desert geomorphologist has to face.
A key aspect would be the geomorphological link between the present-day deserts and the deserts inferred from early aeolian sediments. Have the deserts occurring 22 Myr ago continuously existed until today? The answer could be no if these dunes were once buried by lacustrine or fluvial sediments to a large extent. Detailed examinations of corings from the Taklamakan would provide clues for such a question.
As the Quaternary sediments reach a thickness of over m in the Tarim Basin, it would be an expensive effort to obtain sediment cores with high resolution. The lithostratigraphic studies of Red-earth Formation in northern China showed that both the Tibetan uplifting and the arctic ice-building processes would have played important roles in the aridification in Asian interior during Late Miocene and Pliocene Guo et al.
Records of climatic changes 10Much of the earlier concepts assumed a continuous intensification of dryness in the interior of Asia during the Quaternary e.
However, more recent studies of the river terraces along the Keriya River in the Taklamakan Desert showed that runoff and precipitation during the local peak of the last glaciation were much higher than at present Yang et al. Furthermore, the availability of water was much larger than at present owing to the cold temperature and reduced evaporation at that time Yang et al.
Clear climatic variations during the last glaciation were recognized also in a sediment core from the Chaidamu Basin where the second altitudinal zone of aeolian landforms is located. The dunes of sandy lands in semi-arid regions of China were active during the colder epochs such as marine oxygen isotope stages two and four, and they should be stabilized by vegetation at warm times like today Zhu and Liu, Little variations could be expected in the sand seas of western China while the arid climate was attributed to the uplifting of the Tibetan Plateau.
However, studies in the dune fields and luminescene chronology revealed that both the stability of dunes and the extension of dune fields have undergone distinct variations in the Late Quaternary. Strongly cemented, laterite-coloured dunes were observed on the eastern margin of the Badain Jaran and they were dated to ca 57 — 51 ka by thermoluminescene dating Yang, Similar aeolian sands underlying sandy loess on the eastern margin of the Badain Jaran were dated to ca ka, showing that the extent of the dune fields were larger at those times than at present Yang, Great attention was given both to the landforms and to personal experiences in the books written by earlier explorers e.
Based on air photographs, topographical maps and fieldwork, Zhu et al. The publication of the relatively precise map of aeolian landforms in the Taklamakan Zhu et al. Landforms, sedimentological features such as grain sizes and heavy mineral assemblages and microstructures on the quartz grains of sands in the Taklamakan have been investigated by various authors e. The geomorphological and sedimentological records of climatic changes have become important objectives of more recent studies in deserts.
A chronology of aeolian and lacustrine deposits from the centre and southern margin of the Taklamakan was established using optically stimulated luminescence OSL dating methods Yang et al.
According to these new datings, lakes were formed in the centre of the Taklamakan at around and 30, years ago. Another period of lacustrine environment occurred between 40, and 30, years ago. It was suggested that the climate was much wetter than at present while lakes occupied the central part of the desert Yang et al. In contrast, the development of large migrating dune fields was the predominant geomorphological process during periods of more arid conditions.
According to lacustrine records Rhodes et al. Dome-shaped dunes are distributed in the delta of the Keriya River. Sand samples taken from windward sides are dated to only a few hundreds years, indicating a relatively young age of the dunes Yang et al. The grain size characters also show that the Taklamakan Desert is still in an early stage of development Besler, Agrandir Original png, k 14The abovementioned studies should have made it clear that not only the aeolian processes but also the fluvial processes have changed considerably in the Taklamakan during the Late Quaternary.
The hydrological systems have also undergone abrupt changes in the Taklamakan accordingly. At present the Niya River is quite short and becomes extinct in the south of the Taklamakan.
Based on satellite imageries, it was found that the Niya River flowed into the Keriya River in the past Yang et al. Fluvial forms and sediments indicate that the Keriya River was flowing into the Tarim River on the northern margin of the desert during the late last glacial, and at about years ago as well as during the Little Ice Age Yang et al.
Gobi Desert | Map, Plants, Animals, & Facts | hair-restore.info
Archaeological excavations confirmed that irrigated agriculture was widely practised from ca BC to ca AD in the lower reaches of the Keriya and Niya rivers and in many other parts of the interior of the Taklamakan Yang et al.
Both the human activity and natural environmental changes have played a role in the variations of the extension of the oases during historical times e. Interpretation of megadunes 15The dunes with a maximum height of ca m in the Badain Jaran Desert are not only the highest in all Chinese deserts but also globally. They are higher than all dunes so far discovered in other planets e. Rodents include marmots and gophers, and there are reptiles. People and economy The population density is small—fewer than three persons per square mile one per square km —mostly Mongols with Han Chinese in Inner Mongolia.
In Inner Mongolia the Chinese population has increased greatly since The main occupation of the inhabitants is nomadic cattle raising, though agriculture is predominant in regions where the Chinese are concentrated. The traditional living quarters of the Mongol nomads are felt yurts and orgers types of tentwhile the Chinese farmers live in clay homes built from crude brick.
Next in importance are the large-horned cattle.
Horses make up only a small percentage of the total and, together with the large-horned cattle, are concentrated in the lusher semidesert of the southeast. A fair number of the livestock consists of two-humped Bactrian camelsstill used for transportation in some areas.
Pasturage for cattle is available throughout the year because of underground water supplies. Livestock raising is mainly nomadic, and herds move several times a year, migrating as much as miles km between extreme points. Useful mineral deposits are scant, but saltcoalpetroleumcopper and other ores are mined. Agriculture is developed only along the river valleys. The Gobi is crossed by railroads in the east and west, notably the line from south-central Inner Mongolia to Ulaanbaatarcapital of Mongolia.
There are several highways, including one from eastern China to Xinjiang across the Bei Mountains and the Gaxun Gobi; from the town of Kalgan Zhangjiakou in Inner Mongolia northwest of Beijing to Ulaanbaatar; and from Ulaanbaatar to Dalandzadgad in southern Mongolia, some miles km south-southwest of Ulaanbaatar. In addition, various ancient caravan tracks crisscross the Gobi in all directions. Since the s, population increase and the overuse of marginal lands have decreased vegetation cover and increased soil erosionresulting in an overall expansion of the desert area of the Gobi at the expense of semiarid grasslands on the fringes.
In the s industrialization in the Gobi intensified environmental pollution. A significant example is phosphate contamination of the groundwater caused by chemical fertilizer manufacture in the Hohhot area, which has adversely affected local herds. Contamination with arsenic has also become a major problem where water in wells has been depleted, and thousands of people have been affected. Processes used to mine certain ores in large quantities, notably copper, also have increased contamination of the groundwater at other sites.
Along this route, travelers from many Asian lands crossed the Gobi.
The region first became known to Europeans through the vivid 13th-century descriptions of Marco Polobut it otherwise remained for them virtually unknown and untraveled. European interest in the region was rekindled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A number of geographic expeditions were launched by the Russians and British; and, though the main focus of these expeditions was the Takla Makan, most of them also went through the Gobi, where basic mapping and some study of the flora and fauna were conducted.
Much of the geographic study of the Gobi since then was undertaken by Soviet investigators; the Chinese and Mongolians, however, have become increasingly active since the s. Dating from the 4th to the 10th century ce, these temples have been well preserved in the arid desert air, and the quality and quantity of their fresco paintings and texts has remained unmatched.