February 8, 2023 - Alashan Plateau

Alashan Plateau

The rarely-visited, remote semi-desert region known as the Alashan Plateau sits tucked between China’s Tibetan Plateau and Mongolia’s Altai Mountains. The arid region is almost Texas-sized, covering about 260,000 square miles (673,400 square kilometers). With more than 50 percent of the land covered in bare or barely-vegetated soil, and annual average precipitation of only 95 mm (3.7 inches), the dry, sandy Alashan Plateau provides a rich source for frequent dust storms.

Despite the harsh, cold, and arid climate, the region is known for biodiversity, providing home for several endangered species such the snow leopard, Bactrian camel, Sakar falcon, and Mongolian marmot. The Alashan Plateau is also famous as the home for the Earth’s tallest sand dunes. The dunes in the Badain Jaran Desert, which is located at the base of the Yabrai Shan massif, rise up to 480 meters (1,575 feet).

On February 6, 2023, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a true-color image of the glorious sand dunes rippling across the Badian Jaran Desert on the Alashan Plateau. The giant granitic Yabrai Shan massif can be seen in the lower right section of the image.

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 2/6/2023
Resolutions: 1km (74.1 KB), 500m (221.3 KB), 250m (486.8 KB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC