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The descendants of Chinggis Khan face an unprecedented and dangerous climate change feedback loop.

3 min read

Men argue. Nature acts. Voltaire

Climate change does not respect any international borders. Disaster is coming for us all at some point, regardless of the color of our skin.

People should insist on the government's actions and not worry about our beautiful minds. It’s not all about you, America. Only wealthy nations can produce technology to power green energy, and the most important of all, technology to suck CO2 out of the air.

If ever there was a reason that climate change is a planetary emergency and not limited to the world's great ice sheets. One only needs to look no further than the central Asian country of Mongolia.

A review of climate records via tree rings has found that increasing drought and heat could turn the nation into an uninhabitable wasteland. The tipping point is already underway, according to researchers.

George Dvorsky of Earther writes:

New research published today in Science is painting an alarming picture of the current climate situation in inner East Asia. Contemporaneous heatwaves and droughts in the region are happening more often now than they did 20 years ago, but as the new study points out, the current climate situation in the region has no precedent over the past 260 years. The authors of the new paper reached this conclusion after analyzing tree-rings, which document droughts and heatwaves dating back to the mid-18th century.

This is bad because the region will be even more susceptible to hot and dry weather extremes. The Mongolian Plateau is currently a semi-arid region, but it may not stay that way. The kind of climate that’s being predicted, in which the region will suffer though even more heatwaves and droughts, could make the region as dry and barren as parts of the U.S. southwest, according to the study.

By analyzing tree-rings sourced from the Mongolian Plateau, the researchers were able to tell when heatwaves and droughts happened in the past, and when the soil was moist. Results showed that current temperatures in inner East Asia are unprecedented across the 260-year record.

Mongolia is home to the second largest population of snow leopards in the world, second only to China.
Mongolia is home to the second-largest population of snow leopards in the world, second only to China.

Evaporation produced by wet soil cools the air immediately above the surface. Without moisture, however, heat transfers directly into the air about the ground. This creates a negative feedback loop: high temperatures are boosted by soil drying, but as the soil dries out this leads to even more heat. As to where this ends, “we cannot say,” said Deliang Chen, a co-author and researcher at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Hyungjun Kim, a co-author and climate scientist at the University of Tokyo, said the process could lead to the triggering of “an irreversible feedback loop” that could accelerate the region “toward a hotter and drier future.”

This could eventually lead past an irreversible tipping point that would move the region into a permanent state of aridness. And in fact, we may have already passed this tipping point, as the “semi-arid climate of this region has entered a new regime in which soil moisture no longer mitigates anomalously high air temperature,” as the authors wrote in the study.

The Khentii Mountains in Terelj, close to the birthplace of Chinggas Khan.
The Khentii Mountains in Terelj, close to the birthplace of Chinggis Khan.
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