Taklimakan desert, western China

Taklimakan desert, western China
  • Credit:

    Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

The Taklimakan Desert in northwest China is a vast region of sand desert sitting in a depression between two high, rugged mountain ranges. Seen in this true-color MODIS image from October 27, 2001, the Taklimakan's rolling sand dunes stretch out over about 125,000 square miles in the Xinjiang region of China. The desert is hemmed in to the north by the snow-covered Tien Shan Mountain range and to the south by the rugged Kunlun Mountains. At the lower left corner of the image is the Karakoram Mountain range, where the world's second highest mountain, K2, casts a blue shadow. At the bottom of the image lies the Tibetan Plateau. Desertification and shifting sand dunes are a major concern for the farmers and grazers who live at the desert's edge.

Images & Animations


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  • Data Date:

    October 27, 2001
  • Visualization Date:

    October 27, 2001
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - MODIS
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration