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Hidden Massive Ocean Found Beneath Tarim Basin, Largest Chinese Desert

Scientists have found that beneath deserts are massive hidden oceans, which could provide hope for fast eroding water resources on the surface.

A team of geologists headed by Chinese professor Li Yan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital, discovered oceans of water beneath the Tarim basin in northwestern Xinjiang, reported the South China Morning Post.

For several months, California has been in a state of “exceptional drought.” The state’s usually verdant Central Valley produces one-sixth of the U.S.’s crops. Image Credit:  White House via Wikimedia Commons

Representational picture of Central Valley in the US. Photo: White House via Wikimedia Commons

The Tarim basin is one of the driest regions on Earth but the Chinese team says it could be a hidden treasure for salt water that was equal to te times the water found in 5 of the Great Lakes located in the US. The basin has China’s largest desert, the Takla Makan Desert, in the middle and is believed to be the world’s second largest-shifting desert.

Scientists believe the underneath water could have drained from nearby mountains which have melted down. “This is a terrifying amount of water,” said Li Yan. With their discovery, Li Yan says, “Our definition of desert may have to change.”

Li’s team was fortunate to find the water reserves while looking for carbon sinks after learning for 10 years that carbon dioxide had been disappearing into the basin, without explicit reason. When they compared 200 underground water samples, they found traces of carbon dioxide in the melted water.

Li said the underground water in deserts could be the source where trillion tonnes of “missing carbon” on the planet disappeared in the past millions of years.

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