A zud (very cold winter) – signified by at least one million dead livestock – cannot be ruled out.
The Environmental Information Center (EIC) of Mongolia reports that there have been severe snow storms in rural areas in the past few weeks which resulted in a large area – around 70 percent – being covered in snow. It seems that the situation will only get worse in the coming months. Even a zud (very cold winter) is a possibility – it is signified by at least one million dead livestock.
The EIC reports, “In December, the weather will be colder than average in Mobngolia, and snowfalls and blizzards will also be at a greater magnitude than average. The snow that currently covers the landscape will freeze in place in the coming month [December] which means the situation for domesticated livestock in rural provinces is expected to worsen.” With the thick snow, it will be very difficult (or even impossible) for nomadic herders to send their livestock for grazing.
To make matters worse, the Mongolian nine cycles of winter (called yos, which means nine in Mongolian) are approaching, which begins on December 22. The nine cycles are nine days each, representing the winter in a series of progression of cold that continues for 81 days in total. The first four of the nine are traditionally known to be extremely cold. The strength of the cold gradually decreases after that. Citizens and officials alike, they all warn and remind us to be prepared for the rest of the winter.
Whatever that may come during this winter, let’s hope that we will not lose as many livestock as we did in the 2010 winter, when 8 million – 17 percent of the country’s entire livestock – died, as reported by the UN. The previous record of death in livestock was in 1944, when 7 million livestock died during the winter.
Winters in Mongolia are very unique in that they have a direct economic impact on the population. Livestock is a very important and high-demand food source for traditionally-nomadic and meat-consuming Mongolians. Cold weather, blizzards or “zud” can deprive the nomadic people in the steppe of their livestock or in some cases, income. This ultimately deprives the population of food.
Winter blizzards or “zud” signifies a very cold winter. There are several types of zuds, such as black, white, cold and ice. Black zud is represented by a lack of snowfall but freezing cold temperatures. The white zud is represented by heavy snowfalls which render the livestock unable to feed on otherwise accessible grass, causing famine. The cold zud is simply cold – it is so cold that the animals have to stay together inside their huts to conserve heat, rather than grazing freely. Ice zud is signified by frozen rain, which renders the animals unable to feed on grass.
It will be a cold winter, no doubt – colder than average, even a zud cannot be ruled out – preparations in every aspect should be considered.
Thanks to Argiris Diamantis for this link
“People in Mongolia are used to extreme bitter cold winters,” says Argiris. “Still, even the Mongolians are very worried about that much snow so early in the winter. Maybe US citizens have a reason to be worried, too.”