Chara Sands – Miniature Desert in Frosty Siberia

siberia-mapFor those who don’t know Siberia is an extensive geographical region consisting of almost all of North Asia. It has been a part of Russia since the seventeenth century. The territory of Siberia extends eastwards from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific and Arctic drainage basins. It stretches southwards from the Arctic Ocean to the hills of north-central Kazakhstan and to the national borders of Mongolia and China.

The climate of Siberia varies dramatically, but, generally speaking, it has short summers, and very long and cold winters. One village in Siberia is even considered as the Northern Pole of Cold. It means that it’s the coldest known point in the Northern hemisphere. In 1933, a record high temperature of −89.9 °F (−67.7 °C) was recorded in this area. It also frequently reaches 86 °F (30 °C) in the Summer, giving it one of the world’s greatest temperature variations in the world.

The Chara Sands is a really distinguishable place in this region. It’s like a real desert, but with features you won’t see anywhere else. Instead of hot sun and palms, the desert is surrounded by mountains covered with snow even during the summer. This miniature desert is situated between the Kodar and Udokan ridges (Stanovoye Upland) and is 10 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide. Some of the dunes (which make several chains) are as high as 15 – 30 metres.

As it is said in a website of Russian Geographical Society, “Chara Sands is a large outwash terrain which formed during the Muruktin (Zyrian) glaciation period (about 100 – 55 thousand years ago) as a lake delta at the front zone of the Sakukan glacier, when Chara hollow was filled with water. Eolian activities during the Holocene era affected the top 20 metres of the massif producing the ripples, dunes, blown sands etc., mostly stretched in the north-western direction.”

What can I say, the Chara Sands is a really surprising natural phenomenon. This place is definitely going into my bucket list. What about you?

chara sands map

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Photo credits: Russian Geographical Society