Over the recent decades, satellite-based evaluations are showing that the Mongolian Plateau has been experiencing “remarkable lake shrinkage” because of “intensive human activities and climate changes“, the study claims.
Disappearing lakes due to mining and agriculture since the 1980s threaten Mongolia’s nomadic culture. Climate change not a factor, Spiegel writes. Image: Public domain.
The researchers, Spiegel writes, “are warning of catastrophic consequences.”
The shrinkage of the lakes over the Mongolian Plateau poses a real threat to nomadic societies, the scientists warn.
Yet Spiegel writes that the shrinking of the number of lakes in the region is not because of climate change.
The number of lakes with a surface area of one square kilometer or more shrank from the end of the 1980s to 2010 from 785 to 577. And the trend seems to be strengthening.”
But according to Spiegel the major culprit is not climate change, as the authors suggest in the paper’s abstract, but rather has mostly to do with agriculture and large-scale mining operations. Spiegel writes (my emphasis).
The scientists investigated the reasons for the desertification – climate change is not among them. In sparsely populated Mongolia the number of lakes fell since the 1980s by about 18 percent. In the interior of Mongolia, which has a population density that is 10 times higher, the rate was almost twice as high at 34 percent.”
Spiegel writes that the biggest factor is the growing mining industry in the mineral rich country. Expanding agriculture is also responsible for reduced groundwater levels. The scientists recommend quick action be taken to “save the valuable lakes“, meaning better guidelines for companies conducting operations there.
It’s somewhat refreshing that the Chinese researchers are not advocating modern rain-dancing acts, like installing solar panels on homes in Alaska or Scandinavia to combat the problem.