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PALESCA - Palaeoclimate, Environmental Change and Social Interaction in Central Asia – linking Citizen and Institutional Science

Developing integrative investigation concepts within “Natural Labs” in Kyrgyzstan as a model for future research.
Rural populations in Kyrgyzstan represent the majority of the country’s population. Despite this, research and investment in environmental monitoring and the impacts of climatic cycles and change over time are still poorly understood in these areas. As such, there is a need to develop novel mechanisms for environmental monitoring to increase understanding of climate change as well as increasing peoples capacity to adapt to newly gathered information about their environments to improve their livelihoods. 
By combining MSRI’s Learning Landscapes initiative with ‘citizen science’ activities contributing to GFZ Potsdam’s ongoing monitoring activities in the region, the PALESCA project will develop novel approaches modelled as “Natural Labs” to expand monitoring activities towards greater environmental understanding and developing future research opportunities and capacities.
The project seeks to implement integrative approaches towards environmental monitoring to address this gap. Collecting lake sediment, dendro, speleo and dust monitoring data through participatory approaches such as citizen science aims to bridge the gap between scientists and mountain societies to investigate anthropogenic feedback processes, such as amplitude and repetition rate of climatic and tectonically induced extreme events (droughts, floods, earthquakes, landslides) across differing spatio-temporal scales. 
Citizen science activities will revolve around two summer schools in Naryn and Sary-Chelek region by collecting relevant data towards realizing the goals of the project.  Local students will be trained in data collection using innovative technologies for citizen science such as smartphone applications. These activities will bring together multiple sectors of society including scientists, local organisations, and local community members to enhance the benefits of the project to local livelihoods and well-being. 
In parallel to the citizen science approaches to be adopted by the project, several environmental measuring points will be set up featuring different types of scientific devices (e.g. pressure sensors to monitor water level changes, special rain water collectors to estimate correct values of stable isotopes) to allow for in depth analysis of various environmental indicators. These stations will build the capacities of local and international scientists to understand variations found in the natural environmental archives of trees, lake sediments and speleothems. In doing so, opening up the possibility of going far beyond the temporal framework of instrumental or historical data to understand the natural background of climate variability.