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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Building research and teaching capacity to aid climate change and natural resource management at the National University of Mongolia

PI: Nachin Baatarbileg (National University of Mongolia)
U.S. Partner: Amy Hessl (West Virginia University)
Project Dates: August 2013 to February 2016
 
Climate change affects a wide range of natural resources, including pasture, croplands, forests, and water, and has increased the vulnerability of herders and those who live in remote forest areas. Effective solutions for problems related to climate change adaptation and natural resources management require well coordinated, science based national policies and priorities that are developed with the engagement of government stakeholders and civil society. Mongolia has limited human, technical, and financial capacities to address the multi-faceted threat caused by climate change. Institutions for higher education and research in Mongolia face difficulties in providing high-quality and relevant instruction and research, retaining staff, and ensuring adequate working environments and career prospects.
The main target area for the research to be carried out under this project is the Central Khangai region, a typical Central Asian forest-steppe region in which climate change impacts are negatively impacting both the environment and socioeconomic development. Central Khangai has few environmental monitoring stations and limited records of past climate data, so the dendroclimatic data to be compiled as part of this project is urgently needed. Through the training components and support for students to conduct their own research, the project should strengthen the institutional capacity and performance of the National University of Mongolia to deliver quality education and research, with due attention to gender balance considerations. It should also facilitate increased U.S.-Mongolian collaboration in an important research area.
Summary of Recent Activities
Since the start of the project in September 2013, PI Baatarbileg Nachin assembled the core of his research team, including one PhD student, two master’s students, and two undergraduates. Over the course of two months, he and Dr. Oyunsanaa Byambasuren supervised two research teams that traveled more than 18,000 kilometers in the central Khangai region of Mongolia over 42 days. One team focused on archeological data collection in local monasteries and their ruins, while the other team focused on gathering dendroclimatological and dendroecological data in forested areas. These samples were taken back to the National University of Mongolia lab for analysis.
 
In the first quarter of 2014, Dr. Baatarbileg and Dr. Byambasuren will be presenting results of the Mongolian dendro-ecological studies at the World Dendro Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Back at the laboratory, all project participants will prepare the preliminary results of their own projects and plan for the next year’s fieldwork and data analysis. In addition, student members of the research team are meeting to build their writing and presentation skills for their future thesis-writing and final exam presentations.