Tuesday, February 09, 2010

How wrong can they get?

The snow seems to have hit in early January and, towards the end of the month a World Bank team was reporting that there had been heavy and continuous snowfall, blizzards and a sharp fall in daily temperatures – dropping below minus 40 degrees Celsius.

In 19 out of Mongolia's 21 provinces, disaster areas had been declared, with then losses amounting to approximately three percent of the country's roughly 44 million livestock. Many more losses were expected.

More recently, a Sky News team visited the area and came back with a story of "the worst winter in 30 years", with the reported death of one and a half million livestock, the weather driving tens of thousands of nomadic herders into the cities as they struggled to survive. Some 400,000 nomads, or 40 percent the herding population, in a country of 2.3 million people, were severely affected.

This is the "Dzud" which means "winter disaster" or "white death" and, although there was a Dzud cycle through the winters of 1999-2002, this one of the worst in living memory. The temperatures have dropped so low that grazing livestock have been unable to break through the surface ice to reach the grass below. They continue to die in their hundreds of thousands, starved and then frozen to death.

Latterly, aid agencies have been warning that up to 20 million farm animals may die before the spring, and in some areas, herds have almost completely been wiped out.

As we reported earlier, this extreme weather has not been confined to Mongolia, with Tibet also affected. Clearly, the man in charge of the weather has not read the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, specifically Chapter 10, the very same chapter which forecast that Himalayan glaciers were going to melt by 2035.

There, we are told that the duration of seasonal snow cover in the Tibetan Plateau, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia of China, "will shorten and snow cover will thaw out in advance of the spring season, leading to a decline in volume and resulting in severe spring droughts." The authors forecast that between 20 to 40 percent reduction of runoff per capita in Ningxia, Xinjiang and Qinghai Province is likely by the end of 21st century.

Further, "a rise in surface air temperature and decline in precipitation is estimated to reduce pasture productivity in the Mongolian steppe by about 10 to 30 percent", except in high mountains and in Gobi where a marginal decrease in pasture productivity is projected by the end of this century.

Elaborating on this, a report on "Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in the Livestock Sector of Mongolia", produced under the aegis of the UNFCCC and funded by the GEF, projected the Mongolia will be projected to be "dry and hot," while "winter will be milder with more snowfall."

And here we are, three years after the publication of the IPCC report and Mongolia is experiencing its worst winter in 30 years.

Presciently, in the GEF report noted that "snow plays an important role in livestock herding, since it serves as water resources for animals in winter but too much snowfall has an adverse affect." They were not wrong. But it went on to note that "future declines from 27 to 56 per cent in snow cover extent have been projected by 2020-2080."

Before the 1999-2002 cycle, previous Dzud cycles have been in 1944-45, 1967-68 and 1978-79. In 1944, 32.2 percent or 8.76 million of domestic livestock were killed. Also, 2.6 million (11.9 percent) livestock died in the 1967-68 Dzud. In the 1999-2002 cycle, more than 25 per cent of the total livestock was lost, but this current weather could be even worse.

However, as always, the warmists try to cover their backs. The GEF report states that "impacts of climate change on pasture productivity are gradual but long term, and are often associated with increasing intensity of extreme events, particularly droughts and Dzud."

Therefore, this extreme weather – as elsewhere in the world – can still be attributed to global warming. To the question "how wrong can they get", therefore, the warmist answer is "not at all". Come rain, shine, hail, sleet, or – in this case – bitter cold and blizzard conditions – it is all global warming.

Telling this to the Mongolians, however, will probably not get you very far. I would not suggest that anyone tries it, especially as the current forecast is for more heavy snow.