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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
Co-PI Oyunsanaa Byambasuren made a presentation titled “Climatic sensitivity of trees in high biodiversity forests in Mongolia” at the World Dendro Conference in Melbourne, Australia, January 13-17, 2014. On January 21, PI Nachin Baatarbileg moderated and made a pair of presentations at a day-long workshop on low-carbon society design at the National University of Mongolia (NUM). One of his presentations included preliminary results from this PEER Cycle 2 project, while the other discussed tree growth data from the National Forest Inventory. Meanwhile, students involved in the project have put the new computers and digital microscope funded by the PEER grant to good use as they worked on preparing and analyzing materials previously collected in the field. Results from the study on dendrodating and wood identification of the Sardig Monastery ruins were presented as part of a national conference dedicated to the 90th Anniversary of the Institute of History at the Mongolian Academy of Science.
 
One benefit from the PEER Science project is that the student participants in the research team are enhancing their academic skills. Three such students, who meet with senior project researchers at the dendroecology laboratory each Tuesday, won awards at the Students’ Research Competition at the NUM School of Applied Sciences. Master’s degree candidate Badar-Ugan Khasbaatar placed third in graduate-level scientific research with his paper “Reconstruction of stand structure using tree ring data.” Senior Narmadakh Ganbat won the award for best research for his paper “Above-ground biomass of forests in Northern Mongolia.” Sophomore Sainbayar Gombo won third place among undergraduates for “Application of wood identification in archeological wooden crafts.”
 
The next phase of the project involves several forays into fieldwork. The 3rd National Dendroecological Fieldweek, with a study focus on tree ring applications, is to take place in May 2014. A second fieldweek is being organized for June 23-30, 2014. In addition, U.S. partner Amy Hessl is scheduled to travel to Mongolia for two weeks of fieldwork with the project team in early June.
 
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