Mongolia is a country where there is no place for compromise. With very warm temperatures in Summer time, but an icy climate during the period between December and March, the whole country is under snow and ice. Ulan Bator
is by itself considered the coldest capital city on earth
, well, even beating Antarctica's weather last week
! But you have to understand that in the countryside, temperatures are even more cold.
This year, it is common to see the thermometer displaying -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit) and below in the outdoors.
The most alarming thing is, it doesn't stop there. While the temperatures
themselves can be already harsh, you have to add the snow
that is the true main problem for the herders and their livestock
. This Winter, snow is covering about 90% of the whole Mongolian territory
, this in conjunction with the abnormally low temperatures between November 2015 and January 2016 will affect 965.000 people according to the Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment.
This phenomenon is called often the Zud
in Mongolian language (pronounced "Dzud"), or an extreme climate that is sometimes seen in winters. Very harsh weather conditions that are displaying an abnormal amount of snow, and forces the livestock to find their food with difficulty. Often, cold and ice don't help increasing the problems for the animals, and as a result, a large number of them die. This was the case between the years 2000 to 2002, 3 winters when the extreme cold killed about 11 million animals
, a large portion of all the country's livestock.
Mongolian people think of 3 types of Zuds:
- The white Zud (with more snow than normal)
- The Iron Zud (when the grassland is covered of ice, result of the combination of the rain and cold temperatures)
- The black Zud, caused by a drought in summertime, providing less food for the animals, and followed by a cold winter.
Against the Zuds, the herders prepare the winter well in advance, harvesting the wheat crop for the next season. Also, they collect the animal dried feces known as Khurjun, to use them as fuel for the fire, and in some cases, to build some walls in order to protect the animals from the cold winds.
This year affects 50 Sums
(districts) in 16 Aimags
(provinces) of the whole country, and 120 other Sums in 20 Aimags are preparing the eventuality of getting hit by the Zud. With a drought in the summer of 2015
, and a decrease of the wheat production
, we can get the eventuality of a black Zud in 2016
, with weather as harsh as seen 6 years ago (between 2009 and 2010, about 20% of the livestock of Mongolia died from the cold). These days, a video
has been uploaded on Facebook showing this incredible phenomenon in the countryside.