According to history books, the Lop Nor, which is located at the lowest point of Tarim Basin in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regions, was the second biggest salt water lake in China before 330 AD. However, now Lop Nor leaves us with only a whole piece of salt crust as well as endless mysteries.
Recently, a team of scientific investigators conducted a 6,500-kilometer expedition 29 days and used the most advanced remote sensing, satellite and radar techniques to inspect the Lop Nor region in geography, natural sources, climate and environment changes, wild animals, microbes and other fields again and came to seven new discoveries of the region.
1. The "big ear" is actually in the shape of a round basin
Seen from satellite picture, the image of dry Lop Nor looks like a person's ear. However, this most recent scientific investigation found that the area of the ancient Lop Nor Lake is much bigger than that of the "big ear," and it was actually a round and closed lake thousands of years ago.
Scientists had found and confirmed the proof for existence of the north lake line, thus the area of the Lop Nor is not only 5,350 square kilometers, but over tens of thousands of square kilometers.
The mystery of the "big ear" comes from a satellite picture published on an American academic magazine in 1980s. The picture shows a ear-like place on the Earth, then arguments and debates about it started in the science field.
2. The Lop Nor totally dried in 1962
The scientific team speculated that the Lop Nor totally dried in 1962 according to remote sensing information. It was only a shallow belly and the deepest place was not deeper than three meters, so if the lake was cut off from water since 1959, it should have dried within two or three years.
3. The Yadan landform of the region was jointly formed by wind and water
At the northern, eastern and western parts of the Lop Nor region, there are about 3,000 square kilometers of yadan landform, which is China's second biggest yadan landform distribution region. As to the reason why it formed, running water also played an important role as well as traditional wind power.
4. It is the most drought-prone inland area around Asia
According to the three automatic weather stations placed in the region, the annual amount of local precipitation is less than 10 millimeters. However, the region's annual evaporating ability is more than 4,800 millimeters. On several occasions, the local relative air humidity was even zero. The Lop Nor region had already become the drought center of inland Asia.
5. At least 70 kinds of insects are stilling living in the area
According to former inspection statistics, there are one kind of amphibian, seven kinds of reptiles and 96 kinds of birds living in the Lop Nor region.
This time, scientists found that after water was introduced, several kinds of animals and plants started living on this piece of land, including wolves and even endangered wild camels.
As of now, there are 36 kinds of desert plants living in the area and they have all evolved special physiological structures to suit the salt and drought.
Also, scientists found at least 70 kinds of insects are living here, and most of them go into dormancy to avoid the dry seasons.
6. A new ancient city site was found
During the inspection, scientists newly found a ruins site of an ancient wall built around 400 A.D. to 500 A.D. and finished in period of Northern Wei dynasty. Judging from its cultural relics and location, it might be "Zhubincheng" in history books.
7. Agricultural traces were found to the east of Lou Lan ancient city
In the wooden books unearthed from Lou Lan ancient city, there are some records about agriculture when the city was still thriving.
Scientists found some suspicious images when they looked at the satellite picture of Lou Lan area, and when they inspected the area, which is about 10 kilometers east to Lou Lan ancient city, they found traces of the earth had been irrigated. At the same time, they also found plant spores with a diameter of 47 microns through studies of earth samples here (usually if a plant spore's diameter is bigger than 40 microns, then the plant could possibly be grain corp), which could be the evidence of farming.
Source: People's Daily Online