The Gobi Desert: Sands and Seasons

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The Gobi is Asia's largest desert. It stretches nearly 1,000 miles east and west and nearly 5,000 miles north and south across large parts of Mongolia and China. In total, it covers 500,000 square miles.

Less than 8 inches of rain fall in the entire desert every year. The Gobi is very dry, but it is also very cold. It is nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, and so its
temperatures are very low at times. It can be quite hot or quite cold, often in the same day. Winter days can be filled with snowstorms and icy sandstorms. Average low temperatures are -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Average highs are 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Gobi Desert has massive rocky areas, large dry grasslands, and a good bit of sand, but it also has bodies of water. Surface and underground rivers run through the desert, which is also home to some lakes.

Some of archaeology's most significant finds have come from the Gobi, including the first dinosaur eggs. Many species of animals and plants live in the desert. Animal residents include wild camels, sheep, lynxes, black-tailed gazelles, sandplovers, brown bears, and snow leopards. Plant life includes such hearty species as gray sagebrush and needle grass.

People live in the desert as well, although many of them are nomads who follow herds of animals around.

The Gobi has large deposits of copper and gold, and Chinese and Mongolian officials are looking into mining operations.

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David White