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Agriculture and Desert in China’s Dzungarian Basin

45.5N 84.8E

October 6th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

China - September 4th, 2009

China - September 4th, 2009

Dzungaria is a geographical region in northwest China corresponding to the northern half of Xinjiang. It covers approximately 777,000 km2 (300,000 sq mi), lying mostly within Xinjiang, and extending into western Mongolia and eastern Kazakhstan.

The core of Dzungaria is the triangular Dzungarian Basin (also Junggar Basin) with its central Gurbantunggut Desert. It is bounded by the Tien Shan to the south, the Altai Mountains to the northeast and the Tarbagatai Mountains to the northwest.

The Dzungarian Basin is largely steppe and semi-desert; only a gap in the mountains to the north allows moist air masses to provide the basin lands with enough moisture to remain semi-desert rather than becoming a true desert. This also allows a thin layer of vegetation to grow. Here, thanks to additional irrigation, green fields cover some of the land, particularly to the south, contrasting with the sand dunes to the east.

Runoff from the surrounding mountains into the basin supplies several lakes, including the long, shallow Mana Sihu towards the center of the image.

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