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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
During the weekly laboratory meetings this quarter, new masters students read and analyzed scientific papers related to their research work which greatly improved their professional English and critical thinking skills. As a result, students were able to prepare their own abstracts for the 4th Asian Dendrochronological conference in Kathmandu, Nepal in March, 2015. In the meantime, they are focusing on their work analysis and learning new computer programs. The students received intensive training on programs to cross-date tree ring samples and were able to witness their real-world application due to visiting experts from the Finnish Forest Institute. The team plans to gather more samples during the next field visit to apply the new techniques effectively.

Although originally planned for December, laboratory week was rescheduled to February due to winter break and laboratory renovation work. The team plans to announce and begin registration for students and graduate level researchers in the same month. In March, 2015, selected students will present their work at the 4th Asian Dendrochonological conference in Kathmandu, Nepal. Two of the students, Bayarbaatar Soronzonbold and Narmandakh Ganbaatar are also planning to participate in the pre-conference field week. The team will also finalize its current archaeological collection of monasteries and wooden crafts in the spring and plan on further site visits from March to May to the central Khangai mountain ranges for more data.
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