Holocene climatic changes in the forest steppes of Central Mongolia
The overriding scientific question being looked at by this project is the identification of edaphic and geo-ecological factors (especially permafrost, relief, climate, soil parameters and utilisation), which control the spatial and temporal patterns of forest fires and vegetative successions. The information acquired in this way is used to develop and validate models which enable the evaluation of high-resolution digital climate and soil data to assess their risk potential, and to make forecasts for the present and past development of the vegetation and permafrost. Qualitative and quantitative findings will be used to interpret the development and risk of forests in the Mongolian forest steppe under the influence of anthropogenic exploitation and global climate change. Georadar and trench profiles will be used as part of the field work to investigate the distribution and depth of the permafrost along the transects with the aim of clarifying questions concerning the degradation or reconstitution of permafrost in forest islands after clear felling and forest fires. The history of the changes to the landscape will be analysed via the radiometric analysis (14C and optically stimulated luminescence) of charcoal, fossil soils and aeolian sediments, to create a reliable chronological framework to support quantitative interpretations.