The Lut Desert is in the southeast of the Iran, an arid continental subtropical area notable for a rich variety of spectacular desert landforms. At 2,278,015 ha the area is large and is surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,794,134 ha. In the Persian language ‘Lut’ refers to bare land without water and devoid of vegetation. The property is situated in an interior basin surrounded by mountains, so it is in a rain shadow and, coupled with high temperatures, the climate is hyper-arid. The region often experiences Earth’s highest land surface temperatures: a temperature of 70.7°C has been recorded within the property. A steep north-south pressure gradient develops across the region in spring and summer causing strong NNW-SSE winds to blow across the area between June and October each year. These long periods of strong winds propel sand grains at great velocity creating transportation of sediment and aeolian erosion on a colossal scale. Consequently, the area possesses what are considered the world’s best examples of aeolian yardang landforms, as well as extensive stony deserts and dune fields. Yardangs are bedrock features carved and streamlined by sandblasting. They cover about one third of the property and appear as massive and dramatic corrugations across the landscape with ridges and corridors oriented parallel to the dominant prevailing wind. The ridges are known as kaluts. In the Lut Desert some are up to 155 m high and their ridges can be followed for more than 40 km. Sands transported by wind and washed in by intermittent streams have accumulated in the south and east, where huge sand-seas have formed across 40% of the property. These areas consist of active dunes some reaching heights of 475 m and are amongst the largest dunes in the world. The Lut Desert displays a wide variety of forms, including linear-, compound crescentic-, star-, and funnel-shaped dunes. Where sands are trapped around the lee of plants at the slightly wetter margins of the basin, nebkhas form to 12 m or more in height, arguably being the highest such features in the world. The region has been described in the past as a place of ‘no life’ and information on the biological resources in this area is limited. Nevertheless the property possesses flora and fauna adapted to the harsh conditions including an interesting adapted insect fauna.

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Lut Desert

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