Fire, Climate, and Forest History in Mongolia

Gers in the Khangai Mountain Landscape
PI(s): 
Neil Pederson

Increased wildfires are predicted to accompany ongoing climate change. Yet, little evidence exists supporting this hypothesis. This project will examine relationships between wildfire and climate over the past four+ centuries, from the steppes of the Gobi to the taiga forests of northern Mongolia. Mongolia’s landscape, land-use history and recent history of rapid climate change make it an ideal test case for an examination of the relationship between wildfire and climate. Wildfire occurrence and severity will be reconstructed using tree ages and fire scars as recorded by tree rings. The main objectives are to: 1) test hypotheses about climate impacts on wildfires by developing a network of fire histories across Mongolia; 2) determine whether recent climate change has caused unprecedented changes in the number or severity of wildfires, and 3) potentially identify what climatic combinations could cause forest properties to change significantly from what they had been historically.

Faculty, Scientists, and Staff: