a desert plateau in China northwest of the great bend in the Huang Ho. It covers an area of about 95,000 sq km. To the south it merges with the Loess Plateau. The average elevation ranges from 1,100 m to 1,500 m, reaching a maximum of 2,535 m along the northwestern rim of the plateau (Mount Hsin-chao-shan). Most of the plateau is composed of Jurassic and Cretaceous sandstone, although claystone is also found. Its surface is a succession of slightly dissected ridge-like rises and depressions filled with salt lakes and solonchaks that are swampy in places. About half the area is covered with sand hummocks and rows of dunes of partially loose sand. The main sandy massif is Kuzupchi in the north.
The climate is continental and moderate. Temperatures average — 10°C in January and 23°C in July. The annual precipitation ranges from 100–150 mm in the northwest to 300–400 mm in the southeast.
Deserts with green wormwood and species of Caragana and Hedysarum predominate in the northwest. In the southeast are grassy and forb semideserts and dry steppes. In the depressions are solonchak meadows with mesophyllic shrubs. There is nomadic herding on the plateau, which also has deposits of coal, oil, and sodium carbonate.
M. P. PETROV