Xinjiang’s “Dead Sea” 400 million years ago is resurrecting, where the water, from?
When we mention Xinjiang, the vast Gobi Desert and desert come to our mind. The taklimakan Desert, the largest desert in China, stretches across southern Xinjiang.In our impression, Xinjiang is an arid inland city with little rain. Due to the dry climate, there is very little water, and there are few rivers and lakes.This reminds us of the phrase “sea of death”.It is true that Xinjiang is far away from the sea and deeply inland. Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, is 2,500 kilometers away from the sea. The distance is so far that the humid sea breeze cannot blow far inland, making Xinjiang unable to see the vast ocean of water.The location of the Taklimakan Desert on the map and xinjiang is surrounded by numerous high mountains such as the Tianshan, Kunlun and Altai mountains, which block the arrival of the ocean air and deplete the moist atmosphere in the way of the mountains. All these make Xinjiang a dry continental climate with little rain.With an annual rainfall of about 150 millimeters and a dry climate, Xinjiang is extremely short of water.Scarce precipitation, a large area of desert gobi, resulting in its rivers and lakes in the absence of rain supplement, and the situation of the desert engulf, some almost dried up, and some oblivion in the vast desert gobi.These disappeared and nearly disappeared rivers and lakes, such as Lop Nur, Tarim River, Kanglak Lake and Bosten Lake, are known as the “Dead Sea” of Xinjiang. They are struggling on the verge of extinction.But the Dead Sea in Xinjiang, which dates back 140 million years, has shown signs of reviving in recent years.Lop Nur, which has long since dried up, seems to have regained its former appearance as a clear blue lake, and now its water area has exceeded 10,000 square kilometers.The fairy’s mirror reveals the face of the Gobi as the Tarim River, China’s largest inland river, crosses the northern edge of the Taklimakan Desert, ending nearly 30 years of drought in its lower reaches.So how does water get there in such a dry place?Thanks to the concerted efforts of human beings and nature, the Dead Sea has slowly revived and regained its vitality.Lop Nur is located in the east of The Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, the easternmost edge of the Taklimakan Desert, is the world’s famous drought center, known as the “Sea of death”.But let’s not be fooled by its appearance. In fact, it is rich in groundwater.But the rich groundwater is underground, after all. What does this have to do with the reappearance of the lop Nur surface lake?This is thanks to the mining and extraction of the Lop Nur potash mine.Lop Nur has reserves of more than 250 million tons of potash, and the economic value of the salt has led to the development of potash mines instead of desolate settlements.Potassium salt is a natural mineral containing potassium.It includes potassic stone, potassium alum, carnallite, magnesite sulfate and potassium chloride, etc.It is mainly used for manufacturing industrial potassium compounds and potash fertilizers.It can be said that our daily life is inseparable from it.Potash mine the potash fertilizer commonly used in our agriculture is made with it;The cleanser we use can also be made from it.Carbonates and nitrates, which are needed to make glass and ceramics, are also extracted from it.Chlorates, perphosphonates and nitrates, which are important materials for making matches, fireworks, explosives and rockets, are also produced.Potassium compounds can also be used in printing, batteries, tubes, photography and other industrial sectors, in addition to aviation gasoline and steel, aluminum alloy heat treatment.This gives a sense of the huge demand and value for potassium.Potassium-rich potash mining and what does it have to do with the return of surface lakes?Potash mines exist in Lop Nur’s rich underground brine, which must be pumped up to exploit and which requires the construction of reservoirs to hold if it does not seep back into the desert.So, in the lop Nur potash mines, we can see many reservoirs filled with brine pumped up from the ground. These reservoirs are so close together that at first glance they stretch out like an endless lake.Although this is “artificial” water, but with water to restore the vitality and vitality of Lop Nur, Lop Nur miraculously resurrected.Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, in order to improve the situation of water shortage in Xinjiang and promote its social and economic development, continuous river and lake regulation and Storage projects have been carried out in Xinjiang.In particular, the tarim River basin in southern Xinjiang, which is extremely short of water, has carried out vigorous river and lake regulation and storage projects.By 2002, 232 permanent water diversion hubs and 3,790 km of trunk and branch canals had been built in the Tarim River basin, bringing in 28.2 billion cubic meters of water annually to the irrigated areas.145 reservoirs with a total storage capacity of 3.65 billion cubic meters have been built in the main and tributaries of the Tarim River.At the same time, the emergence of a large number of irrigation, so that these rivers and lakes like capillaries, deep into every corner of the land, widening the area of the oasis.1. According to survey data from 1991, the mainstream bleeder of the Tarim River is 131 bleeds greater than 1 cubic meter/second.The data from 1994 to 1995 show that the mainstream 1 of the Tarim River has 138 different bleeds and 314 mobile pump stations.In 2001, there were 308 water intake points of various types.From 2001 to 2017, Xinjiang organized 17 ecological water transfers to the lower reaches of The Tarim River, delivering a total of 5.5 billion cubic meters of ecological water, ending the drought of the lower reaches of the Tarim River for nearly 30 years.All these have effectively alleviated the shortage of water in Xinjiang, revived the Tarim River and many rivers and lakes in its basin, and made new lakes — reservoirs — dotted all over the region.In July 2021, the Taklimakan Desert was hit by torrential rain, turning it into a vast ocean by rare floods.The incident triggered a strong social response.According to the local meteorological bureau, luntai County, the worst-affected area, received nearly 80 millimeters of rain, which is nearly a year’s rainfall in the area.This is one of the strongest evidence of increased rainfall in Xinjiang.In the last 60 years, the rainfall in Xinjiang has increased at a rate of 10 mm /10 years.Why did xinjiang’s long drought miraculously increase rainfall?This is mainly due to the greenhouse effect.According to the World Meteorological Organization, the global average temperature has increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius in the past 20 years, and if the trend continues, it will increase by another 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next 20 years.As temperatures rise, evaporation becomes more intense, and more water vapor is pumped into the air by the oceans, which accumulates locally and forms massive rainfall.Not only Xinjiang region, but also the whole country and even some parts of the world, under the influence of the greenhouse effect, extreme weather appears frequently.In this way, we should not be surprised by the increase in precipitation in Xinjiang.Xinjiang is home to more than 18,600 glaciers with a total area of more than 24,000 square kilometers, accounting for 42 percent of China’s total glacier area.Ice reserves of 258 million cubic meters, xinjiang can be said to be a natural “solid reservoir”.We must say, xinjiang has such a large “solid reservoir”, why is there still water shortage?In fact, we often say that water resources are only available for human direct use of water resources.Glaciers, by their nature, do not melt all year round and cannot be converted into water that we can use directly.However, the emergence of the greenhouse effect, the rise in temperature, so that the permanent part of the glacier melting.According to data, about 22 percent of the glaciers in The Tianshan Mountains have melted in the past 40 years.These melting glaciers flow down the mountains and into xinjiang’s rivers and lakes, reviving the dying Dead Sea in another way.For a variety of reasons, both man-made and natural, xinjiang has seen more water in the past decade, and the Region’s “Dead Sea” — lost and endangered rivers and lakes — is slowly coming back to life.Aerial photo of Tarim River in spring. However, we should not only see the appearance of xinjiang’s increasing water, but also explore the reasons behind it.At the same time, we should also see other consequences of the causes of xinjiang’s increasing water.For example, due to global warming caused by the greenhouse effect, large-scale rainfall in some areas will lead to more frequent and severe floods, such as the zhengzhou flood last year.The increase of extreme weather and the melting of glaciers will reduce the reserves of glaciers, destroy the ecological environment, reduce the habitat of animals living in the glacier area, and raise the sea level.Of course, we should be happy for xinjiang to have more water, but also keep alert of the consequences of climate change, protect the ecological environment, protect the earth we live on.