There is increasing evidence that climate change will strongly
affect Central Asia and particularly on rangeland that local people rely on
their livelihood (Angerer, Han, Fujisaki, &
Havstad, 2008)(Kjellstrom, Kovats, Lloyd, Holt,
& Tol, 2009)(Thornton, van de Steeg,
Notenbaert, & Herrero, 2009).
In order to understand how humans would respond to climate change,
it is essential to study people’s perceptions of climate and the environment in
general (Vedwan and Rhoades 2001)
Perception of climate change among local people is driven by
multiple forces. Local people knowledge accumulation, observation and
experiences are useful for particular problem solving method (Moller, Berkes et al. 2004).
At a theoretical level, a large body of literature has focused on
comparing scientific and local knowledge. When so doing, the goal has not
generally been to assert that one type of knowledge is more valid than another
but rather to understand the critical differences with regard to their spatial
and temporal scales of observation (Green & Raygorodetsky, 2010)(Nyong, Adesina, & Elasha,
A number of research articles and reports on climate
change have documented the changes in the annual air temperature, mean annual
precipitation and number of extreme events in Mongolia (Batima,
Natsagdorj et al. 2005) (Nandintsetseg,
Greene et al. 2007) (Vandandorj,
Munkhjargal et al. 2017). Whereas there is great resource and knowledge of
local people experiences and their exposure on climatic variables everyday
faced by local herders. Such studies increasingly been recognized as valuable
resource of information regarding environmental and natural changes.(Sillitoe, 1998)(Berkes, 1999) (Mortimore & Adams, 2001). As in Mongolia few studies with regard to herders’ perceptions
on climate change issues have been reported (Goulden et al., 2016)(Marin, 2010).
Mongolian pastoralists lifestyle is closely dependent on weather
condition, land use and their resources(Batjargal & Enkhjargal, 2013) which is organically force them to observe and digest large
number climatic and natural resource variables in particular area.(Marin, 2010) (Goulden et al., 2016). Especially
local and household level studies allows to understand more detailed and
nuances of environmental change occurring in particular area.(Corbett, 1988)(Below et al., 2012).
In this paper, the spotlight
is local herders’ knowledge about weather and their rangeland change and the
existing metrological-based empirical data aiming at understanding the perception
of local herders its correlation with the actual climatic change. However,
little has been done in evaluating community-based knowledge at a household
level about the condition of their rangelands due to climate change is very
helpful for pin point where problem occurring and more likely to occur.
Local knowledge is essential to compare past climate variability
and provide baseline climate history and empirical test of such overlaps become
available and gap between scientific and local knowledge of climatic change
observations gradually become bridged. Future climate research will benefit by
comparison study and complementary engagement with this combination knowledge
rather competing with global knowledge system.
The study was conducted in the Tost Mountain in the Gobi Desert of
Southern Mongolia (43°
N, 100°E). The
mountain consists of several large rugged mountain massifs with an altitude
range between 1600 and 2500 m above sea level. Annual precipitation is <130 mm per year and temperatures range from -35°C to 38°C. There were approximately 90 semi-nomadic herder families living in the area. Livestock holding, including goats (Capra aegagrus hircus), sheep (Ovis aries), camels (Camelus bactrianus) and horses (Equus ferus caballus), range between 80 to 1200 heads per family.
Data was collected through key informant interviews and a
questionnaire-based survey in one targeted communities of Tost. We carried out interviews
with 6 key informants from the Gurvantes Soum government , one livestock and
veterinarian officer, and the Gurvantes local meteorological center in South
Gobi. The interviews aimed to identify official information regarding general
trend of overall livestock and climatic condition during the last 20 years and
potential effect to herders their livelihood of such changes and any measures
by which the government support
A household based semi-structured
interviews was held with 24 herders in Tost. Since the study aimed to
assess climate changes during the last 20 years, we targeted herders who were over
40 years old. The four major components of the questions comprise of (1) general
characteristic of interviewees (2) herder’s perceptions and observations on
climatic changes over the last years (1995 to 2015) such as seasonal patterns
of precipitation, temperature and wind, (3) whether those changes affected the
rangelands and their livestock, and (4) if such changes (current or future)
brings concern to herder’s life and livelihood.
We asked about demography of interviewees such as age, gender,
what kind of livestock and how big was their stock, how long they had been
herding in particular areas. We also asked herders whether they had seen any
new diseases and whether the changes in the climate had affected livestock
yields such as cashmere, wool, meat, and dairy products, and whether such
changes were driven by climatic variabilities or by other sources. Tost area
stratified 4 different sections based on the habitat characterizations and
within the area households selected with over 40 years old members.
We also gathered meteorological
data from National Agency Meteorology and Environmental
since 1995 which includes annual temperature precipitations, wind velocity,
rain types, snow depth and 16 years of NDVI data accessed by MODIS satellite
data MOD13A1 with 500 meter resolutions.