flag of Mongolia

Fire, Climate & Ecology in the Forests of Mongolia

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A birch spring in Mongolia

Principle Investigators:

Neil Pederson

Neil Pederson - Dept of Biology

Eastern Kentucky University

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 National Science Foundation symbol
Updated: Sep '08