Geography of Tibet: Wikis

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This article concerns the geography of Historic Tibet, which includes, but is not the same as the present-day Tibet Autonomous Region. For the non-political geographical region, see Tibetan Plateau.

The geography of Tibet consists of the high mountains, lakes and rivers lying between Central, East and South Asia. Traditionally, Western (European and American) sources have regarded Tibet as being in Central Asia, though today's maps show a trend toward considering all of modern China, including Tibet, to be part of East Asia.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]. Some academic institutions also include Tibet in their South Asia studies programs.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] Tibet is often called "the roof of the world", comprising table-lands averaging over 4,950 metres above the sea with peaks at 6,000 to 7,500 m, including Mount Everest.

Contents

Description

It is bounded on the north and east by China Proper, on the west by the Kashmir Region of India and on the south by Nepal, India and Bhutan. Most of Tibet sits atop a geological structure known as the Tibetan Plateau which includes the Himalaya and many of the highest mountain peaks in the world.

High mountain peaks include Changtse, Lhotse, Makalu, Gauri Sankar, Gurla Mandhata Cho Oyu, Jomolhari, Gyachung Kang, Gyala Peri, Mount Kailash, Kawagebo, Khumbutse, Melungtse, Mount Nyainqentanglha Namcha Barwa, Mount Nyainqentanglha, Shishapangma and Yangra . Mountain passes include Cherko la, and North Col. Smaller mountains include Mount Gephel and Gurla Mandhata.

Regions

Physically, Tibet may be divided into two parts, the "lake region" in the west and north-west, and the "river region", which spreads out on three sides of the former on the east, south, and west. Both regions receive limited amounts of rainfall as they lie in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, however the region names are useful in contrasting their hydrological structures, and also in contrasting their different cultural uses which is nomadic in the lake region and agricultural in the river region.[22] On the south it is bounded by the Himalayas, on the north by a broad mountain system. The system at no point narrows to a single range; generally there are three or four across its breadth. As a whole the system forms the watershed between rivers flowing to the Indian Ocean – the Indus, Brahmaputra and Salween and its tributaries – and the streams flowing into the undrained salt lakes to the north.

The Tibetan Plateau contains the world's third-largest store of ice, but Qin Dahe, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration, said that the recent fast pace of melting and warmer temperatures will be good for agriculture and tourism in the short term; but issued a strong warning:

."Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world." "In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows." "In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril."[23]

The Tibetan plateau lies between the Himalayan range to the south and the Taklamakan plain to the north

.

The lake region extends from the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh, Lake Rakshastal, Yamdrok Lake and Lake Manasarovar near the source of the Indus River, to the sources of the Salween, the Mekong and the Yangtze. Other lakes include Dagze Co, Nam Co, and Pagsum Co. The lake region is an arid and wind-swept desert. This region is called the Chang Tang (Byang sang) or 'Northern Plateau' by the people of Tibet. It is some 1100 km (700 mi) broad, and covers an area about equal to that of France. Due to its great distance from the ocean it is extremely arid and possesses no river outlet. The mountain ranges are spread out, rounded, disconnected, separated by flat valleys relatively of little depth. The country is dotted over with large and small lakes, generally salt or alkaline, and intersected by streams. Due to the presence of discontinuous permafrost over the Chang Tang, the soil is boggy and covered with tussocks of grass, thus resembling the Siberian tundra. Salt and fresh-water lakes are intermingled. The lakes are generally without outlet, or have only a small effluent. The deposits consist of soda, potash, borax and common salt. The lake region is noted for a vast number of hot springs, which are widely distributed between the Himalaya and 34° N., but are most numerous to the west of Tengri Nor (north-west of Lhasa). So intense is the cold in this part of Tibet that these springs are sometimes represented by columns of ice, the nearly boiling water having frozen in the act of ejection.

Lake Pangong Tso

The river region is characterized by fertile mountain valleys and includes the Yarlung Tsangpo River (the upper courses of the Brahmaputra) and its major tributary, the Nyang River, the Salween, the Yangtze, the Mekong, and the Yellow River. The Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon, formed by a horseshoe bend in the river where it flows around Namcha Barwa, is the deepest, and possibly longest canyon in the world.[24] Among the mountains there are many narrow valleys. The valleys of Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse and the Brahmaputra are free from permafrost, covered with good soil and groves of trees, well irrigated, and richly cultivated.

The South Tibet Valley is formed by the Yarlung Zangbo River during its middle reaches, where it travels from west to east. The valley is approximately 1200 kilometres long and 300 kilometres wide. The valley descends from 4500 metres above sea level to 2800 metres. The mountains on either side of the valley are usually around 5000 metres high. [25][26] Lakes here include Lake Paiku and Lake Puma Yumco.

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The Effects of Climate Warming

The Tibetan Plateau contains the world's third-largest store of ice. Qin Dahe, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration, said that the recent fast pace of melting and warmer temperatures will be good for agriculture and tourism in the short term; but issued a strong warning:

."Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world." "In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows." "In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril."[27]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "plateaus". http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/earth/surface-of-the-earth/plateaus-article.html.  
  2. ^ "East Asia Region". http://www.ibiblio.org/chinesehistory/contents/04ear/c07.html.  
  3. ^ "UNESCO Collection of History of Civilizations of Central Asia Volume IV". http://unesco.culture.free.fr/asia-new/html_eng/volume42.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-19.  
  4. ^ Shakabpa, Tsepon; Victor C. Falkenheim and Turrell V. Wylie. "Tibet". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9117343/Tibet. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  
  5. ^ Illustrated Atlas of the World (1986) Rand McNally & Company. ISBN 528-83190-9 pp. 164–5
  6. ^ Atlas of World History (1998) HarperCollins. ISBN 0-72-301025-0 pg. 39
  7. ^ Hopkirk 1983, pg. 1
  8. ^ Center for South Asia Studies: University of California, Berkeley
  9. ^ Center for South Asia Outreach UW-Madison
  10. ^ Center for South Asian Studies
  11. ^ http://www.brandeis.edu/registrar/catalog/one-subject.php?subject_id=6550 this sources admits in certain contexts that Tibet and Afghanistan are South Asian
  12. ^ http://www.basas.org.uk/ Tibetan and Afghan flag shown
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Rutgers, SAS South Asian Studies: – Home
  15. ^ South Asian Studies at Emory
  16. ^ http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/departments/south-asian-studies/department.html
  17. ^ Plateaus, National Geographic Society
  18. ^ [2], Britannica Online Encyclopedia, saying: "The present political boundaries of China, which include Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Sinkiang, and the northeastern provinces formerly called Manchuria, embrace a far larger area of East Asia than will be discussed here...."
  19. ^ East Asian Region - Tibet
  20. ^ Department of East Asian Studies, University of Helsinki
  21. ^ Tibet is considered Central Asian here by Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  22. ^ "Tibet: Agricultural Regions". http://www.tew.org/geography/t2000.agricultural.html. Retrieved 2007-08-06.  
  23. ^ Global warming benefits to Tibet: Chinese official. Reported 18/Aug/2009.
  24. ^ "The World's Biggest Canyon". www.china.org. http://www.china.org.cn/english/MATERIAL/185555.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-29.  
  25. ^ Yang Qinye and Zheng Du. Tibetan Geography. China Intercontinental Press. pp. 30–31. ISBN 7508506650. http://books.google.com/books?id=4q_XoMACOxkC&pg=PA30&ots=SPF7WPsv8p&dq=%22South+Tibet+Valley%22&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html&sig=cQUrmaN5XEoHuoEIcfs8aJpkKEY.  
  26. ^ Zheng Du, Zhang Qingsong, Wu Shaohong: Mountain Geoecology and Sustainable Development of the Tibetan Plateau (Kluwer 2000), ISBN 0-7923-6688-3, p. 312;
  27. ^ Global warming benefits to Tibet: Chinese official. Reported 18/Aug/2009.

References

  • Hopkirk, Peter. Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet (1983) J. P. Tarcher. ISBN 0874772575

External links


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