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2019-01-30. Exploding demand for cashmere wool is ruining Mongolia’s grasslands.

posted Feb 4, 2019, 3:03 PM by Alan Gould
By Kathleen McLaughlin, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/exploding-demand-cashmere-wool-ruining-mongolia-s-grasslands 0] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6. Excerpt: ...Essential to the identity and economy of Mongolia—more than half of the country's 3 million people live there—the grasslands are under increasing threat from overgrazing and climate change. Multiple studies over the past decade have shown that the once lush Mongolian steppe, an expanse twice the size of Texas that is one of the world's largest remaining grasslands, is slowly turning into a desert. An estimated 70% of all the grazing lands in the country are considered degraded to some degree. But a consortium of researchers is hoping data from space could help herders on the ground lighten their impact. ...From 1940 to 2014, annual mean temperatures here have increased by 2.07°C, more than double the global average. Ten of the warmest years on record have occurred since 1997, while rainfall has decreased and seasonal weather patterns have shifted. This has exacerbated soil erosion, which has begun to alter the vegetation, a trend that projections show will intensify in the first half of the 21st century. Meanwhile, development, especially mining, has exponentially increased water usage. Twelve percent of rivers and 21% of lakes have dried up entirely. An increasing number of people, vehicles, and heavy equipment put additional stress on the land. But one factor stands out: overgrazing, which, according to a 2013 study by researchers at Oregon State University in Corvallis, has caused 80% of the recent decline in vegetation on the grasslands....