Tarim River North of Taklamakan Desert Dunes, China40.9N 86.7E
The Tarim River is the principal river of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China. It gives its name to the arid Tarim Basin.
Formed from the union of the Aksu River and Yarkand River, it flows in an eastward direction around the Taklamakan Desert for most of its length. Here, the tall sand dunes of the desert can be seen below the river.
It is the longest inland river in China, with a total length of 2,030 km (or 1,260 mi) and an annual flow of 4-6 billion cubic meters. However, it is shallow and unsuitable for navigation.
The Tarim River itself actively migrates, meaning its beds and banks shift. Due to its heavy silt load, it forms a braided stream near its terminus at the Godzareh depression.
It used to drain into Lake Lop Nur, China’s “Wandering Lake”, but irrigation works and reservoirs created on the river’s middle reaches, such as those visible as a dark area at the top center, caused the disappearance of the lake around 1970.