Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Mongol empire the result of nice weather

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Cultures
Genghis Khan Monument Genghis Khan Monument Shutterstock
01 May
2014
Genghis Khan’s rise was propelled by a temporary run of nice weather, a new study of tree rings in ancient trees in central Mongolia suggests

In just a few years in the early 1200s, Genghis Khan united the fractious Mongol tribes into a conquering army. According to the new study of tree rings from a stand of stunted Siberian pines in the Khangai Mountains, his rise coincided with a period during which the normally cold, arid steppes of Central Asia saw their mildest, wettest weather in more than 1,000 years. Such conditions would likely have led to a boom in grass production, helping to fuel an increase in number of war horses and other livestock.

The tree rings, which span 1,112 years, from 900 to 2011, also suggest that recent droughts in the region were the most extreme during that period. Over the past 40 years, temperatures in parts of Mongolia have risen by as much as 2.5°C. And, since the 1990s, the country has suffered a series of devastating summer droughts. The tree rings show that the most recent, from 2002 to 2009, compares in length and paucity of rainfall only to those of the pre-empire 1120s and 1180s.

‘This last big drought is an example of what may happen in the future, not just in Mongolia but in a lot of inner Asia,’ said the study’s lead author, Neil Pederson of Columbia University in New York. 

This story was published in the May 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PEOPLE...

Explorers

Watch the stunning live-stream from the bottom of the Indian…

Development

Where will the next virus outbreak emerge? A new model predicting…

Cultures

Xi Jinping’s rhetoric has prompted a heartfelt but stern response…

Explorers

The 3,000-kilometre Greater Patagonian Trail has no signposts, printed maps…

Development

Female-led artisanal mining associations are fighting back against a predominately…

Development

Once a constant threat across Bangladesh, arsenic poisoning has significantly reduced thanks to deeper wells

Development

Once dismissed as undesirable competitors, certain West African shrubs are now being recognised as…

Explorers

In January 2019, a Dutch marine charity, the Flotilla Foundation,…

Explorers

Charles Roberts reccounts the story of George Melville Boynton, perhaps the…

Cultures

Infertility affects thousands of women across Senegal, yet the subject…

Development

Still puzzled by China’s trillion dollar masterplan for the future…

Development

In this final instalment of our monthly series of reports…

Explorers

The Arabian Desert may not be everyone’s first choice when…

Cultures

Film-maker Jane Labous documents the taboos faced by Senegalese women…

Development

Gene editing technology means scientists are close to changing small-scale…

Explorers

Impassioned teacher and marine conservationist Libby Bowles looks back at…

I’m a Geographer

Simon Reeve is an author and TV presenter whose latest…

Cultures

Morocco reintroduces compulsory military service, one of many countries debating…

Development

In this penultimate instalment of our monthly series of reports…

Explorers

With the RGS-IBG’s annual Explore weekend on the horizon, the…