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China's Largest Salt Lake Shrinks Rapidly

China's largest salt lake, Qinghai Lake, has shrunk 10 sq km over the last year due to rising temperatures and declining rainfall, according to the latest monitoring reports.

Qinghai Lake is China's largest inland salt lake and was listed among the nation's natural heritage sites this year because of its scenic landscape and abundant resources.

Located in the southern part of the Qaidam Basin, it shrunk from 4,298.63 sq km in November 2005 to its current size of 4,288.56 sq km. It has shrunk 362 sq km between 1959 and 2004, the water level has dropped three meters and the volume of water has decreased by 360 million cubic kilometers.

The lake actually increased by 34.51 sq km in 2005 due to thawing glaciers and abundant rainfall. But the overall trend is on decline, something experts believe can not be reversed as evaporation continues to increase.

The average precipitation in the lake's major tributary area dropped 25 percent last autumn.

(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2006)

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