Snowstorms Kill Herders In Mongolia; Heavy, Record-Breaking Snow Hits China; Anchorage Blanketed By Record Snow; + New Study: Antarctica Has Cooled More Than 1C Since 1999

Snowstorms Kill Herders In Mongolia

As occurred last year, cold and snow is disrupting the seasonal migration of herders across the likes of northern China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Last November, the coldest temperatures since the 1980s killed herders in NW China’s Xinjiang region. Hundreds of cattle and sheep also froze to death as blizzards and temperatures down to a record-breaking -48.6C (-55.5F) descended from the north.

This season is playing out similarly.

On Monday (Nov 6), at least eight herders were killed in central Mongolia due to fierce, early-season blizzards, the country’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has said.

Icy roads and poor visibility have also led to disruptions.

Snow and blizzards swept the western provinces of Zavkhan and Uvs, and also the central parts of the country including the national capital Ulaanbaatar as well as the provinces of Arkhangai, Uvurkhangai, Tuv and Bulgan, reports

Snow even pounded the southern provinces of Dundgovi and Dornogovi, as well as the eastern provinces of Khentii and Sukhbaatar, and the northern provinces of Khuvsgul and Darkhan-Uul.

Looking ahead, dangerous conditions are forecast to persist for the remainder of the week.

NEMA has warned the public, particularly nomadic herders, to take extra precautions.

The inclement conditions have descended south into China, too…

Heavy And Record-Breaking Snow Pounds China

Trains and buses have been cancelled and schools have been shut across northern China as the country’s first substantial snowstorm of the season hits. Its weather service said the cold front is expected to deliver record-breaking snowfall.

Major highways across northeastern cities such as Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province, are closed, and flights are canceled, China’s state broadcaster CCTV said.

Schools have also been shut across multiple provinces, including Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning where heavy snowstorms and freezing lows are forecast to continue for a number of days.

China’s National Meteorological Center expects the snowfall to “breakthrough the historical records”.

As a result, authorities have issued a rare ‘orange’ weather alert. 

The 10 million residents of Harbin have been advised to avoid unnecessary travel and to stay indoors where possible, as some 24,000 people get on with the job of clearing the city’s streets of snow.

Snow collapsed a gymnasium roof in the city of Jiamusi, Heilongjiang killing three people trapped inside.

While traffic disruptions have been widespread across Northern China.

China changed its heating rules as the cold wave approached. Residents aren’t usually allowed to heat their homes until mid-November, a rule devised to conserve energy, but this date was brought forward in anticipation of the incoming polar blast.

As the snow departs, the big freeze will set in, warns the National Meteorological Center. For the remainder of the week (at least), temperatures are forecast to hold below freezing across swaths of China.

Anchorage Blanketed In White

Anchorage also saw its first sizable snowfall Sunday through Monday, with more than 6 inches falling on Nov 5 alone.

According to the National Weather Service, those 6+ inches made for the city’s highest-ever snowfall total on Nov 5, comfortably besting the previous record of 3.8 inches set back in 1964.

“It seems to be a fairly consistent pattern across Anchorage,” said Weather Service meteorologist Christian Landry.

Anchorage roads have seen many collisions over the past two days, as per police reports.

While residents have been lamenting hours of Monday morning shoveling to clear driveways. 

Landry added that the snow would gradually taper off Monday evening leading to a fairly dry Tuesday, but that Wednesday could bring about a return of the snow as another weather system threatens to barrels in off the Bering Sea.

New Study: Antarctica Has Cooled More Than 1C Since 1999

Significant 21st century cooling in the Central Pacific, Eastern Pacific, and nearly all of Antarctica “implies substantial uncertainties in future temperature projections of CMIP6 models.” – Zhang et al., 2023

As reported by, new research indicates West Antarctica’s mean annual surface temperatures cooled by more than -1.8C from 1999-2018. The cooling was most prominent during spring, with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) cooling at a rate of -1.84C per decade.

According to Zhang et al.’s findings, the majority of the Antarctic continent has cooled by more than 1C during the past two decades. See, for example, the ~1C per decade cooling trend for East Antarctica (2000 to 2018) shown here (right panel):

Of 28 CMIP6 models, none captured a cooling trend for this region.

This modeling failure “implies substantial uncertainties in future temperature projections of CMIP6 models.”

As mentioned above, the post-1999 cooling trend has not just been confined to Antarctica; sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Eastern and Central Pacific (south of 25°N), which encompasses almost half of Southern Hemisphere SSTs, have also cooled.

You can read the full study here.

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