The Gobi is the largest desert region in Asia. It covers area in China and southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Tibetan Plateau to the southwest, and by the North China Plain to the southeast. The Gobi is made up of several distinct ecological and geographic regions based on variations in climate and topography. This desert is the fourth largest in the world.
The Gobi is most notable in history as part of the great Mongol Empire, and as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road.
The Gobi is a rain shadow desert formed by the Himalaya range blocking rain-carrying clouds from reaching the Gobi.
The Gobi measures over 1,500 km from southwest to northeast and 800 km from north to south. The desert is widest in the west. It occupies an arc of land 1,295,000 km² (500,002 sq m) in area, making it fourth largest in the world and Asia’s largest. Much of the Gobi is not sandy but is covered with bare rock.
The Gobi Desert is a cold desert, and it is not uncommon to see frost and occasionally snow on its dunes. Besides being quite far north, it is also roughly 900 meters above sea level, which further contributes to its low temperatures. An average of approximately 194 millimetres of rain falls per year in the Gobi. Additional moisture reaches parts of the Gobi in winter as snow is blown by the wind from the Siberian Steppes. These winds cause the Gobi to reach extremes of temperature ranging from – 40°C in winter to +50°C in summer. The climate of the Gobi is one of great extremes, combined with rapid changes of temperature, not only through the year but even within 24 hours (by as much as 40 °C).
Average winter minimal is a frigid -40 °C while summertime temperatures are warm to hot, highs range up to 50 °C. Most of the precipitation falls during the summer.
Although the southeast monsoons reach the southeast parts of the Gobi, the area throughout this region is generally characterized by extreme dryness, especially during the winter.
The Gobi Desert is the source of many important fossil finds, including the first dinosaur eggs. The Nemegt Basin in the north-western part of the Gobi Desert (in Mongolia) is famous for its dinosaur fossil treasures.
Gobi Desert sustain many animals, including Argali (Wild sheep), ibex, Black-tailed gazelles, critically endangered Gobi bear (Mazaalai), marbled polecats, Bactrian camels, Wild camels (Khavtgai), Wild Ass (Khulan) Mongolian Saiga, Sand plovers, and are occasionally visited by snow leopards, and wolves. The desert features a number of drought-adapted shrubs such as gray sparrow’s saltwort, gray sagebrush, and low grasses such as needle grass and bridle grass.