Increased temperatures has not only led to an increase in droughts, but has also led to melting of permafrost, which covers about 60% of Mongolia's land mass.
What does this mean? In places, up to five meters of frozen surface soil has already disappeared which has led to a decrease in water levels in rivers. The budding of plants that depended on frozen surface soil has also been delayed which has consequences on the ecosystem and biodiversity.
At least 77% of total Mongolian territory has been affected by desertification to differing degrees.
Chief of the Nature and Environment Information Center in Mongolia has reported that 40% of the Mongolian territory which has been affected by desertification is due to natural causes. The remaining 60% is the result of human activities. such as mining, and hydropower turbines.
Who can stop this? Because much of the land is communally owned in Mongolia, it can be difficult to regulate how people use grassland resources.
Top-down management has played a large role in controlling the state of the land, but a desire by the government to expand their economy and revive it means that global corporations are also a factor to consider.
As is that case concerning the many environmental issues around the world, grass-root cooperation may be the appropriate way to move forward. This is what we will be looking into within the research aspect of the expedition.
If you would like to read more on desertification in Mongolia, this article produced by the UN may be of interest.