Lkhagvasuren L., 58, is the director of the non-governmental organization “Northeast Asia Center for Environmental and Agricultural Studies” and is frequently involved in Mongolia’s environmental protection projects with UN backgrounds. On April 20, 2023, an interview with Lkhagvasuren by a reporter from Southern Weekend was interrupted due to an unexpected event – he experienced a three-day windstorm at his home in Mongolia’s eastern province, causing a power outage.
In the spring of 2023, strong winds swept through Mongolia. On March 20, April 13, and April 18, the Mongolian National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring successively issued windstorm warnings.
The three conditions for sandstorm formation – sand source, cyclone, and unstable atmospheric structure – converged continuously this spring. The sand source provided by desertified land surfaces was lifted into the upper atmosphere by the early spring cyclones in Mongolia and carried into China on strong winds.
On April 20, the northern sandstorm crossed the Qinling Mountains, and the PM10 concentration in Guangyuan City, Sichuan Province, exceeded 602 micrograms per cubic meter. On April 25, Beijing issued its eighth sandstorm blue warning of 2023.
The frequent sandstorm weather in 2023 reminded many scholars of 2021. In March 2021, Mongolia was hit by an extremely severe sandstorm, with several herders missing in the storm, including a 5-year-old child, and nine people tragically killed. Beijing was also affected, with average PM10 concentrations in the city center exceeding 8,000 micrograms per cubic meter at one point.
“In the spring of 2021, a super sandstorm occurred in North China. Sandstorm weather in 2022 was significantly weakened, but in 2023, sandstorms have become strong again,” Professor Yin Zhicong of Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology told Southern Weekend. The recent interannual differences in sandstorms have become significant, similar to other extreme weather events under the backdrop of global warming. “A paper we recently published in the journal ‘Innovation’ specifically discussed the persistence, prevalence, complexity, and record-breaking characteristics of extreme climate events in the past three years.”