Lop Nur is located in the farthest eastern part of the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang and is the terminal lake of the Tarim River. In the world’s most arid area, lies such a large lake of over 300 square kilometers, there, it is extremely hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter, and very windy and sandy, and it is hardly accessible to enter for people.
There are also other reasons which have made Lop Nur very famous. Firstly, Lop Nur was situated at the key section of the Silk Road. The opening and development of the Silk Road and the prosperity and decline of the ancient Loulan City, were closely linked with the river course in the lower reaches of the Tarim River and with the changes of Lop Nur. Secondly, after Zhang Qian made a journey to the Western Region, it was circulated that the water of the Tarim River flow underground at Yanze and came out in the south to become the source of the Yellow River. This added more mystery to Lop Nur. And in recent times, Lop Nur has become well-known in China and foreign countries mainly because of the academic argument in geomorphology about the move of Lop Nur since the late 19th century.
In fact, all view-points in the argument on Lop Nur have some one-sideness due to the limitation of conditions at that time. With the use of new research means, people have revealed the mystery about the move of Lop Nur by means of satellite and aerial remote sensing, an analysis of the landforms and sediments and a comprehensive study of historical documents, ancient maps and archaeological materials, it is proved that between the 10th century and the late 18th century or some time later. In Yengisu-Ara Gan area in the lower reaches of the Tarim River, there was a lake which was the terminal lake of the Tarim River. In the map of the Qing Dynasty, it was called Lop Nur. Today, in accordance with the research materials, the whole process of the move of Lop Nur because of the changes in climate and the course of the Tarim River and in water volume can be sketched out.