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Stunning Scenes: From the Himalayas to the Taklamakan Desert

(Image: © David Putnam)

Tien Shan mountains, China

tien shan mountains

(Image credit: Aaron Putnam)

Almost half the world's population gets its water from glaciers and rainfall in Asia's highest mountains and deserts. Geologist Aaron Putnam of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, his father David Putnam, an archaeologist at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, and their colleagues recently visited some of these areas on study expeditions, snapping these striking photos.Above: Looking north toward the high Tien Shan mountains of western China. At center is the highest peak in the Tien Shan: Tomur peak (or Jengish Chokusu in Khirgiz).

Mountains in Bhutan

(Image credit: Aaron Putnam)

Snow on high peaks above Thampe Chhu, Bhutan.

Boulder sampling

(Image credit: David Putnam)

Tshewang Rigzin (Department of Hydromet Services, Royal Government of Bhutan) and guides sampling boulder on moraine.

Weather station

(Image credit: David Putnam)

Tshewang Rigzin (Department of Hydromet Services, Royal Government of Bhutan) and Aaron Putnam (Columbia) tinkering with a weather station.

Glacier, Bhutan

(Image credit: Tshewang Rigzin)

Prof. Summer Rupper (Brigham Young University) and colleagues descending Drukso Gangri after emplacing stakes that would monitor melt over the following year.

Glacier, Bhutan

(Image credit: Aaron Putnam)

Drukso Gangri ('Dragon-Tooth Glacier'), Bhutan.

Himalayan plateau

Rinchen Zoe plateau, Bhutan Himalaya.

(Image credit: David Putnam)

Rinchen Zoe plateau, Bhutan Himalaya.

Himalayan Blue Sheep

(Image credit: David Putnam)

Himalayan Bharal ('Blue Sheep') on high cliffs near Tampe La.

Mountain camp

(Image credit: Aaron Putnam)

Camp beneath the high mountain pass of Tampe La.

Yak herders

(Image credit: David Putnam)

Nomadic yak herders in the Nikka Chhu valley, Bhutan.

Himalayas

(Image credit: David Putnam)

Looking north toward the spine of the Himalaya, featuring the high peaks of Makalu (right) and Everest (left).