A team of 15 Chinese scientists started an expedition into
China's eighth largest desert, the Kumtag, Thursday.
This is the first full-scale scientific expedition across the
Kumtag, said Wang Jihe, a researcher with Gansu Provincial Sand
Control Institute and head of the expedition.
The team will walk across the desert to study its geology,
animals and vegetation, surface water distribution, agriculture,
stockbreeding and other human activities as well as its
desertification process, said Wang.
The scientists, representing Gansu Provincial Sand Control
Institute, Chinese Academy of Forestry and Lanzhou University, will
also collect samples for future research on the desert's soil,
vegetation, climate and water conditions, he added.
"Kumtag is a natural lab that tells how a desert is formed and
evolves," said Wang. "The study will help us better understand how
the arid region in the northwest was formed in the first place and
how the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau erected as the roof of the
Wang said the team also hope to get some first-hand information
about wild two-humped camels, a rare species that, just like the
giant panda, is under special preservation by the Chinese
government. "Kumtag is known as a major habitat for the camel."
"Kumtag" means "sand hill" in Uygur. As its name suggests, the
desert has the toughest natural conditions in northwest China's
As a matter of fact, scientists know very little about the
Kumtag, which is located between Lop Nur in Xinjiang
Uygur Autonomous Region and Dunhuang of Gansu
Province and sandwiched between two mountain ranges: the
Tianshan Mountains on the north and Altun Mountains on the
(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2005)