Mongolia’s semi-arid plateau may soon become as barren as parts of the American Southwest due to a “vicious cycle” of heatwaves — that exacerbates soil drying, and ultimately produces more heatwaves — according to an international group of climate scientists.
Writing in the journal Science, the researchers warn that heatwaves and concurrent droughts have increased significantly during the past two decades, with troubling implications for the future. Using tree-ring data, which offer a glimpse of regional climates from before modern weather logs, the researchers developed heatwave and soil moisture records that suggest recent consecutive years of record high temperatures and droughts are unprecedented in more than 250 years.
According to the study’s findings, the record high temperatures in the region are accelerated by soil drying, and together these changes are magnifying the decline of soil water. “The