When one thinks about the deserts of the world, a large ocean is one of the last things that come to mind. Yet, this might change for the Taklimakan Desert in northwest China. The Tarim basin is the world’s largest landlocked basin, and is home to China’s biggest desert, the Taklimakan, and has an area of 900,000 sq. kilometers.
LOOKING FOR CARBON AND FOUND WATER
The scientists were after carbon, and large carbon deposits. Chinese scientists have also been searching for certain regions where carbon dioxide is absorbed. These regions are known as “carbon sinks” such as oceans and forests.
While studying the amount of carbon dioxide in the desert’s air, a team of researchers were shocked to learn that the large amounts of the greenhouse case were disappearing around a region of the desert that is called the Tarim basin. The Tarim basin is in the desert in northwest Xinjiang, and is one of the driest areas on earth. This discovery, like many, was by accident. The basin is widely known to contain rich oil reserves, but accessing them would require a large amount of water.
SAME TEAM DISCOVERED CARBON DIOXIDE DISSAPEARANCE A DECADE AGO
The team that discovered this potentially large ocean under the Chinese desert discovered large amounts of carbon dioxide disappearing without a trace in Tarim a decade ago. Now, the team is collaborating with other research teams to see if other oceans could similarly exist under large deserts.
LARGE OCEAN OF WATER IS BELIEVED TO COME FROM NEARBY MOUNTAINS
A basin by definition is a valley that collects water from drainage systems, such as water that has melted and is running down the face of a near by mountain. Two mountain ranges border the Tarim basin, the Tian Shan mountains and the Kunlun Mountains. Scientists believe that this is where the water is coming from. This is leading scientists and researchers to reevaluate the definitions of deserts and oceans. A professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Xinjiang Institute of Ecology in Urumqi thinks that the definition of a desert might have to be amended.
According to the Geophysical Research Letters journal, the explanation for this is a massive underground ocean that has more water than all of the Great Lakes in North America combined, and could possibly be 10 times that amount.