Climate change trends in Mongolia
Mongolia’s climate is characterized by extreme fluctuations in both temperature and precipitation, differences accentuated by the country’s expanse and topographical diversity. The country has six ecological zones ranging from high mountain alpine systems in the north and east to the vast Gobi Desert in the south.
The country’s diverse climate makes it uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This diversity leads to a wide range of extreme climate-related events, often occurring within a single year, including dzuds, dust storms, flash floods, and steppe and forest fires. The number of extreme weather events doubled in the last 20 years, and is expected to continue to increase over the coming decades.
In Mongolia climate change threatens the livelihoods of many of its citizens, 40 percent of whom are dependent on animal husbandry and rainfed agriculture. Though historically known for an extreme range of seasonal variation in temperature and precipitation, atmospheric conditions in Mongolia have become progressively more erratic.
Since 1940, Mongolia has witnessed a 2.14°C rise in average annual temperatures, twice the global average over the same period. It is projected to witness an additional 2-3° C rise in temperature by 2050. Mongolia ranked on German Watch’s 2014 Climate Risk Index as the eighth most vulnerable country to the impacts of extreme weather.
Coinciding with the recorded temperature rise is a greater variability in precipitation levels and occurrence; summer rainfall has been observed to be decreasing while winter precipitation increasing. Precipitation are less frequent and more intense, correlating with more extreme weather including droughts and harsh winters known as dzuds. In addition, dust storms, forest fires and flooding are all growing problems at the national level.