Mongolia has a very extreme continental climate which means that it lacks any moderating influence from the ocean. This makes it one of the coldest countries in the world – January frequently sees temperatures of -30C and it can easily dip below -40 (with some parts of Mongolia experiencing below -50C). Mongolia’s Nine Nines of winter is how Mongolians traditionally measured the progress and coldness of their winters.
From the winter solstice onwards, Mongolians marked the progression of winter with the Nine Nines – the 81 days of winter. Traditionally, Mongolians – who were mainly nomadic – didn’t always have the luxury of knowing the date or time so a set of practical ‘standards’ were set that were used to determine where they were in winter. Whereas we may say ‘it’s bloody freezing’, Mongolians would use the Nine Nines to describe a phase of winter and that measure the intensity of the cold during those phases.
The 81 days finish in March … just when the spring winds arrive …
Since 1940, Mongolia’s average annual temperature has risen by between 1.8 C, – 2.2 C, a trend that is expected to continue in the coming decades. This warming is causing water scarcity, desertification, and pasture degradation, exacerbating catastrophic events such as floods, droughts, dzuds (a cyclical weather even unique to Mongolia), and sand storms, and endangering the lives and health of Mongolian people. For tens of thousands of Mongolian households – specifically herders – affected by dzud, drought, desertification, and forest and steppe fires, climate change is not distant news, but a reality and has resulted in urban migration from the countryside to Mongolia’s capital city Ulaanbaatar (UB). This is our motivation for becoming a signatory of The Glasgow Declaration – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/the-glasgow-declaration/ – an agreement between many in the tourism industry to lead, align and galvanize on climate action. We are proud to be a signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action In Tourism (to give it its full title) – led by the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Association) in collaboration with the Travel Foundation and Tourism Declares A Tourism Emergency (of which we are a member) within the framework of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme.
If you’re interested in joining us to experience Mongolia’s nine nines of winter, why not consider one of our winter tours? For now, I’ll leave you with the words of travel writer and explorer Benedict Allen in his book on Mongolia – Edge of Blue Heaven: ‘On arrival and learning that the temperature was minus 18 degrees, I overheard a fellow traveller say ‘thank God. Looks like Mongolia’s enjoying a warm spell.’
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes