A field survey with a sample of 98 households was carried out in Chaganbulige, Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia in order to understand herdsmen's perception of climate change and compare it with meteorological data and the official record of extreme climate events. The results showed that most herdsmen correctly perceived the change in temperature, but they had inexact judgement on precipitation, wind and sandstorm. In the past 40 years, temperature in Siziwang Banner was slowly increasing. The precipitation and storms were fluctuating greatly, but the long-term trend did not change much though most herdsmen reported that the rainfall was significantly decreasing. Recent years of extreme climate events impressed herdsmen most.
As to the impacts of extreme climate events, drought was most impressive to herders followed by snowstorms and sandstorms. For adapting to climate change herdsmen had spontaneously taken various adaptive measures, of which 22 adaptation measures were reported in the survey. The top five measures that were used by most herdsmen are storing more hay and forage, reducing the herd size, building warm shed, borrowing money (loan), and "not let next generations be herders". Others include building corral, digging well, planting fodder, cooperation in vaccinations of cattle, reducing household expenditures, changing grazing location, renting grassland, introducing new breeds, savings, wage labor, giving up herding, alternative livelihoods (e.g. tourism), sharing herding arrangement, etc.
The 22 spontaneous adaptation measures were assessed by experts with the method of multiple criteria analysis (MCA). The criteria include effectiveness, economic benefits, flexibility, no-regret, side-effect, compliance with government policies and plans, compatibility with development goals, and replicability. The results showed that building warm shed, the introduction of new breeds, hay and forage storage, reducing the herd size and wage labor met the most criteria.
The spontaneous adaptation measures were further screened by herdsmen, researchers, and local government officials with the participatory method. The results showed that measures such as building warm shed, introduction of new breeds, hay and forage storage, reducing the herd size and loan were more effective than others, which did not totally coincide with the results of expert assessment.
To support the spontaneous adaptation measures which were selected to be most practical and effective, the herders identified the following policies that were mostly needed, i.e. loan support, the improvement of social security, accurate weather forecasts and pest forecasts, animal insurance, training, market access enhancement, enhancement of infrastructure, warm shed subsidies and drinking water project. Those policies would improve herdsmen's ability of adapting to climate change, help herdsmen to cope with extreme climate events, and reduce their vulnerability of livelihoods.