You might say that desert and water don’t match, yet the newest discovery underneath the huge Taklamakan Desert situated in northwest China begs to differ.
A team of researchers recently discovered there might be a massive underground ocean underneath it. They made the discovery while they were analyzing the amount of carbon dioxide in the area. They soon noticed that a great amount of greenhouse gas was simply vanishing around the Tarim basin.
It was then when they assumed that a huge quantity of water could be lying underneath. According to their measurements, there is more water there than the one contained in North America’s all Great Lakes.
The lead researcher, professor Li Yan, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography in Urumqi, said that the whole definition of desert might have to change, as nobody could have ever imagined there could be so much water underneath one.
Even if a basin represents a valley that collects water, there is none if you take a look at the Tarim basin. This may be due to the fact that local people usually collect water melted from the mountains that surround the basin to irrigate their crops. The rest of the water evaporates or is absorbed into the ground.
The researchers went to about 200 locations and took underground water samples for analysis. When they looked at the quantity of CO2 in each of them, they saw that they contained unusually large quantities. This basically meant that the soil was taking in around 500 billion pounds greenhouse gas every year.
Afterwards, they looked at their CO2 measurements in the water samples and compared them to the carbon dioxide levels in surface water to give them an idea of just what amount of water was actually stored underground.
“This is a terrifying amount of water… Never before have people dared to imagine so much water under the sand,” said Li Yan.
Nevertheless, the researchers do not advise people to start digging it out because, according to them, it is very salty and it contains a huge amount of carbon dioxide.
The new discovery makes the Tarim basin a carbon sink zone, as it has been sinking large amounts of carbon dioxide for almost two millennia.
Image Source: data.en.yibada