Droughts in Mongolia—past, present and future
The extreme wet and dry periods Mongolia has experienced in the late 20th and early 21st centuries are rare but not unprecedented and future droughts may be no worse, according to an international research team that includes a University of Arizona scientist.
The 10 researchers then combined that information on past climate with computer models that can project future regional climate.
Finding that future droughts would likely be no worse than those of the past was a surprise, said Anchukaitis, who led the modeling team.
Mongolia’s rainy season is in the summer, the warmer time of the year, whereas California and the Mediterranean have winter rains and dry summers.
As global temperatures increase, continental regions with summer rains may get more precipitation, offsetting the effects on plants of higher temperatures.
The team’s research paper, "Past and Future Drought in Mongolia," is scheduled for online publication in Science Advances on March 14.
This new research is an outgrowth of previous research he, Hessl and their colleagues conducted to figure out how past climate influenced the Mongol civilization.
Anchukaitis and his colleagues used their tree-ring record of past climate in Mongolia to reconstruct what the annual Palmer Drought Severity Index, or PDSI, would have been going back in time 2,060 years.
Even with the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures, the model simulations indicate that future droughts in Mongolia would be no more severe than those of the past.
More information: "Past and future drought in Mongolia," Science Advances (2018).