The Gobi Desert is a desert area in Asia covering northwestern and northern China, and the southern part of Mongolia. The Altai Mountains, steeps of Mongolia, and the grasslands bound its basins on the north. To the southwest, the Tibetan Plateau and Hexi Corridor bound the desert's basins, while the North China Plain and Taklamakan Desert bound the basins to the southeast and the west respectively. The Gobi Desert is a famous historical region of the Mongol Empire and the host of most important cities near the Silk Road.
The Gobi Desert is 500 miles from north to south, and a thousand miles from southwest to northeast. In the west, the desert is most extensive, covering an area of 500,000 square miles, making it number five on the list of the world's largest deserts. Moreover, the desert conventionally covers most of the Greater Khingan range between the Liao-ho and the Songhua upper waters to the east. In fact, some ecologists and geographers refer the western part of Gobi Desert as the basin of Tarim, and the basin of Hami and Lop Nor as the Taklamakan Desert. Paleontologists and archaeologists have noted that the northwestern regions of Gobi have fossils of dinosaur eggs and early mammals as well as ancient stone elements.
The temperatures in the Gobi Desert are low, making it a cold desert that has frost and occasional snow covering its dunes. The location of the desert at quite far north and on the plateau which is relatively few meters above sea level (910-1,520 meters) contribute to its low temperatures. The desert also experiences an average of about 194 millimeters of rainfall per year, and it receives more moisture during the winter since the winds carry snow from the Siberian Steppes to the desert. On top of that, the winds help to create the extreme temperatures of the Gobi, with a range of -40℃ during winter and 45℃ during summer.
The Gobi Desert experiences a climate of great extremes with rapid temperature changes by as much as 35℃, which does not only occur seasonally but can also occur daily. The southern part of the Gobi Desert typically experiences extreme dryness, particularly in the winter. Therefore, the region experiences icy snowstorms and sandstorms in spring, early winter, and early summer.
Irrespective of the harsh climatic conditions, the Gobi Desert and neighboring regions sustain a significant number of animals such as marbled polecats, the Mongolian wild ass, black-tailed lizards, sand plovers, and wild Bactrian camels. The Gobi Desert is also an important place to obtain useful fossils such as the first dinosaur eggs.
Shrubs grow in the Gobi Desert since these plants have adaptations to survive in times of drought. Some of the shrubs in the desert are the low grasses, gray sparrow's saltwort, and the bridle grass. Further, there have been several establishments of nature reserves in the desert including the Great Gobi A. Investigation for mining operations in the regions is also underway to extract the vast deposits of gold and copper in Oyuu Tolgoi.