Gobi Desert

The Gobi desert spans two countries and is the largest desert in Asia, sixth largest in the world. It’s aspiring to be the largest because it is the fastest expanding desert in the world, at about 2250 miles a year.

Right about now you’re saying, “The Gobi isn’t biology!” It is a complex ecosystem and ecology is a type of biology.

The Gobi has dust storms more severe than any other desert. The yellow dust blows hundreds of miles and has been known to reach California. This March the worst storm in a decade blew across the desert.

Before and after the yellow dust of the Gobi blows through Beijing

The Gobi is designated a cold desert. What does that mean? The coldest month is January and the lows are around -22F, while in the summer the highs are around 100F. That doesn’t seem very hot. There have been summers here in Maryland with highs of 100F.

If the Gobi isn’t extremely hot, what makes it a desert? Amount of rainfall. Deserts receive less than 10in of rain a year. Baltimore last year had 57.4in. What makes it a cold desert? You guessed it, the average low is quite cold.

Why doesn’t the Gobi get rain?

It’s in the rain shadow of the Himalayan mountains. The mountains are so tall, they block rainclouds from moving any further.

That means The monsoons never reach the Gobi.

What kind of life can live in such harsh conditions? As it turns out, there are quite a few species in the Gobi. It’s beyond what I planned for this article to talk about all of them. The interesting thing about the animals of the Gobi is that many of them are endangered. I’ve got photos below of some of the endangered species. Bet you never expected to see camels in the snow!

Clockwise starting at upper left: Bactrian camel, Black-tailed gazelle, snow leopard, long-eared jereboa, Gobi bear.

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