flag of Mongolia

Fire, Climate & Ecology in the Forests of Mongolia

American Flag

A birch spring in Mongolia

Principal Investigators:

Neil Pederson

Neil Pederson - Tree Ring Laboratory of LDEO

Columbia University

Current News:

  • Get updates from the project blog

  • The 2010 Field Season is nearly complete. Since July our team has sampled >1400 trees from the Tuul Watershed, just north of Ulaanbaatar to near the Russian border and from the east of the Khenti Uul (Mountains) to the near western tip of the Khangai Uul
  • Project Overview: 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.

    Bodg Uul

    Broader Impacts: The research will benefit institutions in the U.S. and Mongolia. Funding will support two PhD students for study in the U.S., including a student from Mongolia, an additional MS student, and several undergraduate students from both the U.S. and Mongolia in field and laboratory research. Research elements will be incorporated into university curricula and continuing education materials in the Mongolia and U.S. We will interpret and transfer our methods and research findings to decision makers, landowners, managers, and conservation organizations working in Mongolian forests and related ecosystems in Asia.

    Sanaa cutting a fire-scarred sample

    Dr. Amy Hessl

    Amy Hessl - Dept of Geology & Geoghraphy

    West Virginia University

    Dr. Peter Brown

    Peter Brown

    Rocky Mountain Tree Ring Research

    Dr. Baatarbileg Nachin

    Baatarbileg Nachin - Head, Dept of Foresty & Tree Ring Laboratory

    National University of Mongolia


    Our predecessors of tree-ring based climate change research in Mongolia: MATRIP

    American Center for Mongolian Studies

    Slate.com series on Mongolia

    Eastern Progress article

    Sponsored by the Ecosystem Science cluster of the National Science Foundation

    Updated: Sep '10