Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate of Genghis Khan's ancient time extends long shadow over Asia of today

12.03.2014

Current drought in Mongolia could have serious consequences

Climate was very much on Genghis Khan's side as he expanded his Mongol Empire across northeastern Asia.


View of the modern-day Orkhon Valley near Karakorum, the ancient Mongol capital. Credit: Amy Hessl

That link between Mongolia's climate and its human history echoes down the centuries, according to findings reported in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

But climate may no longer be the boon it was during the latter, wetter part of Genghis Khan's reign. The early years were marked by drought.

Mongolia's current drought conditions could have serious consequences for the Asia region's human and other inhabitants.

The discovery linking ancient and modern history hinges on wood. Trees provide an extensive climate record in their rings.

The tree rings' tales of ebbs and flows in water availability show that Genghis Khan took power during a severe drought, says Amy Hessl, a geographer at West Virginia University and co-author of the paper.

But, the scientists found, the rapid expansion of Genghis Khan's empire coincided with the wettest period in the region during the last millennium.

"Through a careful analysis of tree-ring records spanning eleven centuries, the researchers have provided valuable information about a period of great significance," says Tom Baerwald, a program director for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Program, which funded the research.

CNH is one of NSF's Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) programs. CNH is supported by NSF's Directorates for Geosciences; Biological Sciences; and Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences.

"The results also provide insights into the complex interactions of climate, vegetation and human activity in semi-arid regions today," Baerwald says.

Though political realities would also have played into Genghis Khan's power grab, the regional climate at the time appears to have supported his empire's expansion.

The climate provided literal horsepower as armies and their horses fed off the fertile, rain-fed land.

"Such a strong and unified center would have required a concentration of resources that only higher productivity could have sustained, in a land in which extensive pastoral production does not normally provide surplus resources," the paper states.

While the ramifications for past history are significant, so, too, are they for today's.

The scientists believe that human-caused warming may have exacerbated the current drought in central Mongolia, similar to the drought that coincided with Genghis Khan's initial rise to power.

"If future warming overwhelms increased precipitation, episodic 'heat droughts' and their social, economic and political consequences will likely become more common in Mongolia and Inner Asia," according to the paper.

Hessl co-authored the report with scientists Neil Pederson of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Nachin Baatarbileg of the National University of Mongolia, Kevin Anchukaitis of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Nicola Di Cosmo of the Institute for Advanced Study.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, cdybas@nsf.gov
Diana Mazzella, WVU, (304) 293-6998, diana.mazzella@mail.wvu.edu

Related Websites
Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability NSF-Wide Investment (SEES): http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504707
NSF Publication: Discoveries in Sustainability: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/disco12001/disco12001.pdf
NSF News: National Science Foundation awards $19.4 million for research on coupled natural and human systems: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=129178&org=NSF&from=news
NSF Discovery Article: Summertime: Hot Time in the City: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=128204
NSF Discovery Article: Cooking Up Clean Air in Africa: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126403&org=NSF&from=news
NSF Discovery Article: Soundscapes: Studying Nature's Rhythms: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126403&org=NSF&from=news

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Engineering Mongolia NSF Sustainability discoveries drought resources

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Scientists observe first signs of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer
01.07.2016 | University of Leeds

nachricht Climate study finds human fingerprint in Northern Hemisphere greening
30.06.2016 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mainz-based physicists find missing link between glass formation and crystallization

Densified regions with drastically reduced internal motion either act as crystal precursors or cluster and frustrate all further dynamics

Glasses are neither fluids nor crystals. They are amorphous solids and one of the big puzzles in condensed matter physics. For decades, the question of how...

Im Focus: Thousands on one chip: New Method to study Proteins

Since the completion of the human genome an important goal has been to elucidate the function of the now known proteins: a new molecular method enables the investigation of the function for thousands of proteins in parallel. Applying this new method, an international team of researchers with leading participation of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was able to identify hundreds of previously unknown interactions among proteins.

The human genome and those of most common crops have been decoded for many years. Soon it will be possible to sequence your personal genome for less than 1000...

Im Focus: Optical lenses, hardly larger than a human hair

3D printing enables the smalles complex micro-objectives

3D printing revolutionized the manufacturing of complex shapes in the last few years. Using additive depositing of materials, where individual dots or lines...

Im Focus: Flexible OLED applications arrive

R2D2, a joint project to analyze and development high-TRL processes and technologies for manufacture of flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been successfully completed.

In contrast to point light sources like LEDs made of inorganic semiconductor crystals, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are light-emitting surfaces. Their...

Im Focus: Unexpected flexibility found in odorant molecules

High resolution rotational spectroscopy reveals an unprecedented number of conformations of an odorant molecule – a new world record!

In a recent publication in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Quantum technologies to revolutionise 21st century - Nobel Laureates discuss at Lindau

30.06.2016 | Event News

International Conference ‘GEO BON’ Wants to Close Knowledge Gaps in Global Biodiversity

28.06.2016 | Event News

ERES 2016: The largest conference in the European real estate industry

09.06.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Mainz-based physicists find missing link between glass formation and crystallization

01.07.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists observe first signs of healing in the Antarctic ozone layer

01.07.2016 | Earth Sciences

MRI technique induces strong, enduring visual association

01.07.2016 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>