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Dust Storm on Eastern Edge of Taklamakan Desert, China

39.5N 90.0E

March 18th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Dust Storms

China – March 11th, 2013

A duststorm affects the Taklamakan Desert in western China, particularly by its eastern edge. The Taklamakan is China’s biggest desert and is an immense sea of shifting sand dunes, which dominates the west of the country.

The fringes of the desert are most susceptible to desertification, as overgrazing on farmland bordering the desert tends to strip the lands of their grass and hence allows the desert to take hold and expand. During the spring, winds tend to increase in intensity in the west of China. As the spring winds blow, they pick up the sand and dust lying on top of the degraded land and carry it into the air, creating these massive dust and sand storms.

Dust Over Taklamakan Desert and Influence on Asian Climate

39.5N 81.9E

March 3rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Dust Storms

China – March 3rd, 2013

Dust blows about the Taklamakan Desert, in China, partially obscuring its northern rim at the foot of the Tian Shan Mountains. Dust storms in this region are relatively common, and also influence other regions such as the Tibetan Plateau. Scientists have suggested that large dust storms could be heating the region and even influencing the development of the monsoon in the neighboring country of India.

Dust particles tend to absorb heat from sunlight, creating an unusually warm area over the Tibetan Plateau. This heating enhances atmospheric circulation from relatively cold to warm areas, thus strengthening the Indian summer (rainy) monsoon. If desertification progresses in the Taklamakan desert as the climate warms, Tibet will probably become more dusty in summer, with important implications for central Asian climate (click here for more information).

Snow Over Taklamakan Desert, China

37.1N 79.9E

January 24th, 2013 Category: Deserts

China – January 7th, 2013

While deserts are usually associated with an imaginary of scorching temperatures and moistureless terrain, they can actually be quite cold. This image shows snow on the Taklamakan Desert, in northern China, a relatively common occurrence in winter. Visible through the snow are the White Jade (Yurungkash) and Black Jade (Karakash) Rivers, which flow north from the Kunlun Mountains into the desert, later converging to form the Hotan River.

Taklamakan Dust Settles, Indian Fires Rage On

31.7N 75.1E

November 17th, 2012 Category: Deserts, Dust Storms, Fires, Mountains

India and China – November 16th, 2012

While sand from a dust storm in the Taklamakan Desert (upper right, click here for previous images) appears to be settling, fires in northern India rage on  (more images here), releasing a thick cloud of smoke. Here, the smoke can be seen blowing along the foot of the Himalayas, west into Pakistan, and southwest down the Indus River Valley.

Dust Along Northern Rim of Taklamakan Desert

39.9N 80.3E

November 15th, 2012 Category: Deserts, Dust Storms

China – November 13th, 2012

The dust storm that has been shifting sands about the Taklamakan Desert since early October (click here for more images) continues. Here, the dust obscures the northern rim of the desert, bordered by the Tian Shan Mountains.