Desert Solitude

As Mongolia’s grasslands dry up, nomads have to move—permanently.

March 20, 2015

Mongolia used to be…different. Greener. Wetter. Hospitable to the nomads who live there. But over the last 70 years, temperatures rose 2.1 degrees Celsius (about 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and the amount of rain that fell, well, fell. Lakes dried up and sand swept over settlements, drastically changing the nomadic culture. Now the government estimates that desert encroaches on three-quarters of the country's land.

Photographer Daesung Lee set out to document the changes, taking before-and-after images of landscapes, with nomads as their focus. Up to one-third of the country’s population grazes its animals on the vast grasslands. But many of them have to relocate, thanks to shifts in climate caused by others. 

Photo: Daesung Lee

Photo: Daesung Lee

Photo: Daesung Lee

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