Massive 'ocean' found under Chinese desert
Thursday, September 17, 2015, 6:24 PM - Researchers have found a body of water containing ten times the amount of water in all five of the Great Lakes in an ocean hidden under northwestern China's Tarim basin, one of the driest places on Earth.
The basin in Xinjiang, China is approximately the size of Venezuela and is home to the largest desert in the country.
While the water in the basin is too salty to drink, it's believed the reservoir may be helping to slow climate change. Still, there is a downside to the discovery.
Professor and lead author in the study Li Yan told the South China Morning Post that if all the carbon in the reserve was released into the atmosphere it could be catastrophic.
“It’s like a can of coke. If it is opened all the greenhouse gas will escape into the atmosphere," Li told the Post.
“This is a terrifying amount of water. Our estimate is a conservative figure — the actual amount could be larger."
Li had been searching for missing carbon around the Tarim basin, a phenomenon that has eluded researchers for years. It was those efforts that led them to a giant aquafier housing the water.
Calculations suggest there could be as much as a trillion tonnes of missing carbon on the planet, leading researchers to speculate their could be more water reserves hidden under other deserts around the planet.
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