The Third Pole

Flows from the glaciers that give the pole its name support roughly 1.3 billion people in China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — and the glaciers are melting fast. And the glacier melt is happening much faster than anticipated, and an urgent task is to understand the complexity of what's happening. Chinese authorities have opened up a remote research station on the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau and revealed alarming research on the pace of global warming.
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The ancient silk road town of Dunghuang in North Western China, which is fed by water from glaciers.
The route to the pole passes through the ancient silk road town of Dunghuang in north-western China.  It was strategically important as it was located at the junction of the northern and southern Silk Roads.  At its height in the second century, Dunghuang had a population of 76,000 and was a key supply base for caravans to load up with food and water to make the trek across the desert.
Water from the Third Pole feeds a series of jewel-like oases that sit amid the arid dunes of the Gobi desert.  Today water from the glaciers has been harnessed into an extensive irrigation system that sustains a population of 5 million in what's known as the Hexi Corridor.
The road to the Third Pole - The route to the pole passes through the ancient silk road town of Dunghuang in north-western China.
Dunes in the Gobi desert
An intricately carved tower sits beside an oasis in the Gobi Desert.
Two homes of Mongolian herders
Rolling hills with snow capped mountains in the background
A lush oasis formed by glacier melt sits in the Gobi desert.
At its height in the second century, Dunghuang had a population of 76,000 and was a key supply base for caravans to load up with food and water to make the trek across the desert.

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