Taklimakan Desert

Taklimakan DesertThe Taklimakan Desert in northwest China fills the expansive Tarim Basin between the Kunlun Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau to the south and the Tian Shan (Celestial Mountains) to the north. It is china's largest sand desert and one of the eight biggest deserts in the world. The Taklimakan's rolling sand sand dunes stretch out over 3, 376, 000 square kilometers.

This desert is located farther from the ocean than almost any other place on Earth. As a result, some parts of the region receive less than 10 millimeters of precipitation a year. The Taklimakan is known as one of the world's largest shifting sand deserts. Eighty-five percent of the area consists of shifting, crescent-shaped sand dunes that may be as high as 330 to 660 feet (100 to 200 m) and have almost no vegetation. Temperatures vary by as much as 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) from day to night and about 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) from summer to winter.

Camels live in very dry areas and can withstand extremes of heat and cold. To keep out sand and dust, camels are able to seal their slit-like nostrils closed.

Despite of its extremely tough weather condition, the humans-inhospitable desert is home to a great variety of wildlife-the last refuge of wild camels, and one of the last homes of Asiatic wild asses.

Tips: Anyone who visits the Taklimakan Desert has to be prepared for some severe climatic conditions. This is the driest and warmest desert in all of China. On a clear day, an observer might see eight or ten tornadoes from a single viewpoint, and sandstorms in April and May can darken the midday sky until it looks like night.