Global Warming Science -




[last update: 2010/09/06]



Mongolian Government Shenanigans


[Aug. 29 2010] Top Mongolian officials donned dark green baseball caps reading "Save our planet" and set up chairs and tables in the sands of the Gobi desert for a Cabinet meeting aimed at drawing attention to climate change.

The meeting of 12 government ministers was held in scorching heat Friday in Gashuunii Khooloi, a sandy valley in South Gobi province, about 415 miles (670 kilometers) south of Ulan-Bator, the country's capital. The ministers, dressed in suits and ties, arrived in the desert in jeeps after a 15-hour journey. Officials planted a Mongolian flag in the ground, set up long tables and chairs in the fine, golden sand and discussed climate change against the backdrop of a vast expanse of desert and a bright blue sky. "Mongolia is feeling the impact of global climate change," Prime Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar said at the one-hour meeting. Batbold pointed to the recent winter as an example of problems Mongolia faces. The winter was the harshest in decades and a fifth of the country's livestock died.

The government blames global warming for a decrease in rainfall and says that rising average temperatures have caused many rivers and springs to dry up and snow cover to melt. It also says the frequency of natural disasters and drought has jumped.

Minister of Natural Environment and Tourism Gansukh Luumed said Mongolian herders' traditional way of life is under threat. "Global climate change accelerates the desertification process in Mongolia. Currently, 70 percent of Mongolian land is affected by desertification."



The Mongolian government blames global warming for the harsh winter and desertification.


The head of the United Nations exposed his ignorance in a letter sent to the President of Mongolia congratulating him for his desert stunt: “President Elbegdorj received a letter from Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General. Mr. Ban Ki-moon wrote: “Dear Excellency Mr. President, I was very interested to learn that you will be hosting a Cabinet meeting of the Mongolian Government in the sands of the Gobi Desert, one of the most expansive, arid regions on the Asian continent. I commend you for this innovative initiative to focus increased attention on the rapid desertification and degradation of land in your country and, more broadly, on the accelerating global impacts of climate change. My visit to Mongolia left a deep impression and underscored for me the importance of efforts to reduce the threat of climate change. … Climate change is accelerating the pace of desertification. By addressing climate change, we can help slow or reverse desertification” []


(Although Moon congratulated Elbegdorj for an “innovative” initiative, “Mongolia is now Asia’s third country to capitalize on dramatic backdrops for cabinet meetings to draw attention to climate change. In 2009, to reflect growing concern for rising sea levels, the Maldives held a cabinet meeting under water with ministers wearing scuba gear and using hand signals to communicate. Shortly after, Nepal held a meeting at an altitude of 17,192 feet at the base of Mt. Everest, with ministers wearing oxygen masks, to heighten awareness of the threat global warming poses to glaciers.” [])




Gobi Desert / Mongolia


The Gobi desert covers southern Mongolia and the Inner Mongolia region of China.


gobi desert map.gif (36812 bytes)

(figure from



As far as temperature data goes, Mongolia has a lack of history. The earliest stations in the NOAA GHCN or Hadley databases for Mongolia start in 1940. The following figure shows average July – August temperatures for Dalanzadgad in the Gobi Desert from the Hadley CRUTEM3 data (plotted at




January 2010: United Nations Country Team in Mongolia: “Mongolia is currently threatened by a “Dzud”, which is a multiple natural disaster consisting of a summer drought where insufficient fodder is stockpiled, followed by heavy winter snow and lower than normal temperatures. The current Dzud is considered to be more severe than the last Dzud in 2001. To date in Mongolia, 7 of the 21 aimags (Provinces) containing 52 soums (villages) have been declared by the government to be disaster areas. A further 12 Provinces (198 soums) are severely affected. … Currently, heavy and continuous snowfall and blizzards have resulted in a sharp fall in daily temperatures - dropping to below -40°Celsius across most of Mongolia. The weather forecast for January-March 2010 predicts more snowfall than the annual average precipitation. … The primary cause of a dzud is the accumulation of damaging natural hazards, including severe widespread drought in summer, usually cold temperatures in autumn and winter, and then very heavy snowfall. Secondary causes may be over-concentration of stock and overgrazing of pastures in some areas, the disappearance of abundant grass, and inadequate winter hay preparation.[$File/full_report.pdf]


March 2010: “A severe winter has left 4.5 million dead animals in stockyards across the Mongolian steppes” []


The Mongolian winter of 2009-2010 was one of the coldest the country has experienced in over three decades.” []




Desertification in Mongolia


The following information is from a 1998 report “Desertification in Mongolia” by Zambyn Batjargal of the National Agency for Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment Monitoring, Mongolia [].


The climate of Mongolia is characterized by a high moisture deficit, low humidity and low levels of incident energy. Precipitation is generally low, ranging from less than 50 mm per year in the extreme south (Gobi desert region) to just over 500 mm per year in limited areas in the north … Because of the continental climate, fluctuations in temperature are extreme, both annually and diurnally. Fluctuations can be as high as 30°C in single day and the difference between average winter low temperature and summer high temperature in excess of 50°C as compared to 25°C range in Europe. Moreover, it is possible even during summer to get sharp falls in temperature and unseasonal frosts can cause harvest losses of between 10 and 30% of crops. In addition, the spring-summer droughts, on the average, occur once in every five years in the Gobi region, and once in every ten years over most other parts of the country (Figure 4).





Due to above mentioned climatic factors the natural ecosystems, including soil, are relatively fragile, highly susceptible to degradation by human activities, and slow to recover. The rates of humus production and vegetative regeneration and growth are very low throughout the country and agricultural productivity is low in comparison to other countries of the same latitude.


The impact of human activities and regional droughts on water resources in Mongolia over the past several decades has been profound. Water use for irrigation, mining etc., and human activities in watersheds such as deforestation, have resulted in substantial reductions in river flows and flow regimes, water level reductions or complete drying of many lakes, and lowering of ground water tables. For example, the annual average flow of the Tuul river has been reduced by 32% and roughly half of this reduction may be attributed to the cutting of 270 km2 of forest in the watershed of this river 40–50 years ago.


It was reported (Batjargal 1992) that several lakes in the southern part of Mongolia, for example Onggyn Ulaan, Orog, Dzagyn Shal, have been severely depleted or have dried out completely. But since 1993, the situation has changed due to less intensity of drought and most of those lakes have already been recovered. In addition to the obvious ecological disruption caused by lake drying or level reductions, human economic activities on lake-shores, such as the mowing of reed for fodder, have significantly impacted the ecology and wildlife of many lakes.


There are several specific human activities that have led to serious and widespread soil erosion and land degradation. Crop cultivation is an important reason of soil erosion. Spring tilling coincides with the season of intensive wind and most cultivated areas are devoid of trees or other wind breaks. In the Gobi region the average wind speed is 3–4 meters per second or even more which can cause significant soil moisture loss and erosion. It is estimated that over the past 30 years, an average of 35–50 tons of soils have been lost from each hectare of cultivated land due to erosion.  Another factor is vehicle-induced degradation from overland travel in the absence of an established road system. It is estimated that nationwide there are four times as many vehicle tracks as are necessary, causing degradation and denudation of 0.7 million ha of land. The deforestation due to clearcutting for timber harvest, fire and insect infestations are among the factors contributing to soil erosion.


The most prevalent human activity in Mongolia that can potentially induce anthropogenic land degradation augmenting desertification risk is animal husbandry, characterized by livestock grazing. … The carrying capacity of pasture land is frequently exceeded in the areas receiving the greatest grazing pressure, resulting in degradation of the composition of plant species and soil denudation.


Other reports:


As population increases, the domestic animal population to support it increases. Overgrazing is leading to the loss of grassland species and damage from erosion that is difficult to restore. This brings economic hardship for Mongolia’s herders and threatens wild grazer populations. … There are 25 million grazing animals in Mongolia and many of them live in the Gobi Desert. In recent years ground water levels have dropped all across the desert not only due to drought and the normal dry Gobi climate but also due to the expansion of nomad family herds because of increasing population.”  []


A 2002 study (Ayush “Desertification and Drought Assessment in Mongolia” []) states: “In Mongolia, the main causes of desertification are land degradation as a result of irrational utilization of land, water and forest resources, pasture overgrazing, and cutting of trees and shrubs for fuel and cultivation. Factors for desertification can be divided into two categories, natural and anthropogenic factors. In Mongolia, anthropogenic factors (87%) are the main cause of desertification.


A 2007 study (“Integrated desertification assessment in Southern Mongolia” []) examined the Bulgan soum in the Gobi area of southern Mongolia and states “Climatic variations, low variable rainfall, and dust storms overlaid by unsustainable human land-use practices, primarily poorly managed livestock grazing, are contributing to accelerated desertification.” The following figure shows the study area as well as the degradation from 1990-2005.




The following figures are from the above study, which states: “Drought, i.e., a shortage of precipitation over an extended period, is a regular and recurrent feature of the Gobi desert climate in Mongolia.” (i.e. the Gobi Desert is a desert).


The following figure shows mean annual precipitation (MAP in mm) for 1970 to 2002 for the Bulgan soum area of the Gobi (thin line is 3-year moving average). There has been no trend in precipitation over the period.



The following figure shows MAP (left same as above) and growing season rainfall (right) “Mean annual precipitation and growing season rainfall showed large interannual variability and was closely correlated … However, a general decrease was not found. This is contrast to the common claim of decreasing rainfall in Mongolia.




Carrying capacity calculations according to western and Mongolian methods show that the Bulgan soum is currently supporting twice as many livestock as its carrying capacity. If this increasing trend of livestock density continues, the Bulgan soum will need to support even a factor of 2.5 more stock units than its actual carrying capacity by 2020.


Species composition of livestock, which was proportional during the socialist period, has changed in response to world cashmere prices. Goats particularly have increased as a share of total livestock from 20% in 1990 to 40% in 2005. Some people postulate, however, that the recent severe spring dust storms may have been aggravated by the larger number of goats present across the Gobi region (UNDP, 2004).


As part of the livestock, horses, cows, sheep and goats have increased whereas the number of camels has decreased. Between 1990 and 2000, goats increased by the highest percentage (54%), horses by 76%, cows by 33% and sheep by 51%, while camels decreased by 8.1% in relation to their numbers (Figure 2.6).




The following figure shows the plant biomass trend for the area. While rainfall has not decreased, the number of range-degrading livestock has greatly increased.







The Mongolian government wants you to pay them because you drive a car and western idiots like Obama pretend that this is the reason that desertification is occurring in the Gobi desert, not that the Mongolian population is overgrazing the land with livestock.