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Geography and climate PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 05 February 2010 03:08

The Mongolian Geography
Mongolia is situated in the central part of the Asiatic continent (41°35'N - 52°09'N and 87°44'E -119°56"E), Mongolia's longest stretch from west to east is at 2,392 km., and from north to foremost southern point is 1,259 km. The country is bounded on the north by Russia and on the east, south, and west by China. It has a total area of 1,565,000 sq. km. It is the 19th largest country in terms of area in the world. It is also one of the largest mainland countries with no access to sea.
The topography of Mongolia consists mainly of a vast plateau with the elevation ranging from 914 to 1,524 meters (m) broken by mountain ranges in the north and west. The Altai Mountain in, the southwest rises to heights of 4,267 m above the sea.

The climate of Mongolia is described to be severe and greatly variable geographically and time wise. Mongolia is far from the world oceans, surrounded by high mountains and highly elevated above the sea level averaging 1.5 km. The climate of Mongolia is characterized by "short dry summer (June to middle of August) and long cold winter (end of November to April) with spring (April to beginning of June) and autumn (end of August to end of October). Summer rainfall seldom exceeds 380 mm in the mountains and is less than 50 mm in the desert areas.

Air Temperature
The temperature ranges between -15° and -30°C (-5° and -22°F) in winter and 10° and 26.7°C (50° and 80°F) in summer. Annual mean temperature in Altai, Khangai, Khentii, Khuvsgul mountainous region is lower than - 4°C, and between the mountains and in base of large rivers, the average temperature is lower than -6 to -8°C. In the steppes and desert regions it is lower than 2 C, while in south Gobi, the average temperature is higher than 6°C (Figure 1.). The average temperature of 0°C in Mongolia.

The air temperature in January, which is the coldest month, averages -30°C to - 34°C in the high, mountain areas of Altai, Khangai, Khuvsgul and Khentii; while it is -20 to -25°C in the steppe and -15 to -20°C in the Gobi desert. In the south Gobi regions the temperature averages -15°C to -12°C. On the weather record since the 1940s, the coldest temperature in Mongolia recorded was -55.3UC (in December 1976 at the Zuungovi sum, Uvs aimag) while it Is -49.0°C in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar (in December 1954). The influence of inverse on the temperature in the cold season is significant.

In July, the warmest month, average temperature in Altai, Khangai, Khuvsgul, and Khentiin mountains is 15C. In the areas of Basins of Great Lakes (Ikh nuuruudyn khotgor) Altai, Khangai, Khuvsgul and Klientii mountain regions and is the basis of Orkhon, Selenge and Khalkh rivers, the average temperature Is between 15°C and 20°C. In the south parts of steppes of Dornod and the Gobi deserts, the temperature averages 20-25°C, while in the areas of Dornogovi, the temperature is higher than 25°C (Figure 2). The hottest temperature ranges between 28.5 C and 44.0°C. The hottest temperature of 44°C was recorded in Darkhan Uul aimag, Khongor sum (July 24th, 1999).

In the warm seasons, the air temperature drops by 0.5-0.6°C for every 100 m. rise in altitude. In high mountain regions, the cold season in spring ends late (mid of June) and cold season starts early (mid of August), which leaves only 70 days for warm period. The warm days last for 90-130 days in the rest of the country.
The number of days with temperatures higher than 10°C is 90 days in the mountainous areas which are elevated more than 2,000m. and forested, while in the steppe areas, it is 90-110 days. In the grassland steppes, it is 110-130 days, while in the desert, it is 130-150 days and in the Gobi desert, it is more than 150 days.

In general, the amount of precipitation in Mongolia is low. Annual mean precipitation is 300-400 mm. in the Khangai, Khentein and Khuvsgul mountainous regions; 250-300 mm in Mongol Altai and forest-steppe zone; 150-250 mm in the steppe zone and 50-100 ram in the

Precipitation distribution depends very much on relief and landscape and decreases from north to south and from east to west. Total precipitation, amount is much lower than the potential evapotranspiration. The potential evapotranspiration is less than 500 mm in the mountain regions, 550-700 mm in the forest-steppe zone, 650-750 mm in the steppe zone, and 800-1,000 mm in the desert-steppe and desert zone.

About 85% of total precipitation falls from April to September, of which about 50-60% falls in July and August. Although annual precipitation is low, its intensity is high. The maximum precipitation (138 mm/day) recorded since 1940 occurred on 5 August, 1956 at Dalanzadgad, and the second greatest (121 mm/day) on July 11, 1976 at Sainshand. It is possible, however, that an intense rainstorm of 40-65 mm may fall in a single hour.
In Mongolia, the number of rainfall days in the mountainous area is 60-70; 40-60 rainy days in the Khangai. Khentein mountains, mountain valleys and Dornod steppe; and about 30 days of rain in the Gobi-desert. Rainfall contributes most of the annual precipitation. In other words, the intensity of precipitation is high although the amount precipitation is low.
During the winter months, about 10 mm of snow falls in the desert, 20-30 mm in the mountains and the Uvs lake depression and 10-20 mm in the other regions (Figure 2.7).
Accordingly, the number of days in which snow cover is present is more than 150 in the Mongol Altai, Khangai, Khentei, and Khuvsgul mountains, 100-150 days in the steppe and forest-steppe zone, 50-110 days in Dornod steppe and steppe zone, 50 and less in the Gobi-desert zone. The average depth of snow cover is not much—about 5 centimeter in mountains (the maximum Is over 30), 2-5 centimeter in the steppe (the maximum is 15-20 centimeter) but winters without snow cover are very rare and have occurred only in the Gobi region.

Other Climate Parameters
Sunshine. Mongolia receives an average of 230-260 days of sunshine annually, which is 2,600-3,300 hours of sunshine a year.
Winds. Mongolian steppe and desert-steppe zones are very windy. Annual average wind speed in these areas is in 4-6 m/s, and the other areas is 2-3 m/s. Wind speed is in 1-2 m/s in the Khentii mountain valleys and the other areas is around 2-3 m/s.

The Gobi-desert zone is 41.3% of Mongolian entire land. The number of days with sand-dust storm in a year in this area is 30-100 while it is 120 in the southern part of the Mongol els (Figure 2.7). Around 61% of dust storm occurs in March, while 7% occurs in summer. Dust storms do not occur at the Uvs lake depression in winter. However, dust storms occur at the Artsiin holoi for 1/3 day in the 3 months of winter. 80% of the dust storm occurs in day time. According to the observation, 300-600 hours of dust storm occurs in a year in Gobi-desert zone. Mongolian dust stomas are one of the main sources of "Asian yellow dust".

Climate Change
Because of its location, fragile natural ecosystems, the lifestyle of the people and the economic situation, Mongolia is relatively sensitive to climate change.
Studies show that in the last 40 years certain impacts of climate changes have already been observed. Impacts resulting from observed climate change cause high damage not only to the livestock sector but also to the ecology and socio-economic sectors.

Air Temperature Change
According to the records at 48 meteorological stations which are distributed evenly over the territory of Mongolia, the annual mean temperature of Mongolia increased by 2.14°C during the last 70 years. However, annual mean temperature decreased in the winter season for the period of 1990-2006.

Linear trend analysis is used to analyze the trends of average winter temperature for the periods of 1940-2006, 1961-2006, 1981-2006, and 1990-2006 which is shown in Figure 2.8. According to the trend, temperature is increased by 0.05l°C/year during the period of 1940-2006, by 0.045 C / year in the period of 1961-2006, by 0.018°C7 year in the period of 1981-2006. But during the period of 1990-2006, slight temperature decrease -0.119°C/y ear is observed.