Dust and Clouds over the Taklimakan Desert

Dust and Clouds over the Taklimakan Desert

Dust and clouds hovered over the Taklimakan Desert in early June 2009. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image on June 9, 2009. The dust forms a hazy veil over the desert, especially along its northwestern margin. In the western half of the desert, a spray of clouds casts shadows onto the dust cloud below. In the east, clouds predominate. A mixture of dust and clouds blows eastward out of the desert.

The Taklimakan Desert sits in the Tarim Basin, between the mountain ranges of the Tien Shan (or Tian Shan) in the north and the Kunlun Shan in the south. The Taklimakan Desert is the largest, hottest, and driest desert in China, as well as one of the world’s largest shifting-sand deserts. Sand dunes in the Taklimakan can reach a height of up to 200 meters (656 feet).

NASA image courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

References & Resources

  • World Wildlife Fund, McGinley, M. (2007). Taklimakan Desert. Encyclopedia of Earth. Accessed June 9, 2009.