National Geographic quotes Lyon in article on extreme Mongolian winters

Bradfield Lyon, an associate research professor in climate analysis at the University of Maine, spoke with National Geographic for the article, “The dangers of dzud, Mongolia’s lethal winters.” For the second time this decade, extreme winter conditions on the Mongolian steppe caused extensive die-offs of animals that traditional herding communities rely on for their survival, according to the article. Severe winters that kill large numbers of livestock are common enough in Mongolia that there is a local term for the phenomenon: dzud. The weather is a threat not only to livestock, but to the nomads’ way of life: Bereft of the animals they rely on for food and income, hundreds of thousands of herders have streamed into the country’s capital of Ulaanbaatar, hoping to send their children to school and find work, the article states. Finding solutions is complicated by the fact that dzud is difficult to predict, since the conditions that give rise to the disaster are hard to pin down, Lyon said. “There’s not just one pattern we can identify and say, ‘Ah! This will lead to problems,’” he said. “Even with long-range weather prediction models, it’s difficult to capture how long these things are going to persist. There’s so much variability in atmospheric patterns.”