Climate change and its impact on rangeland ecosystems have been studied for six pastoral communities in central Mongolia. Not only current and future trends of temperature and precipitation, but also a zud (severe winter for livestock) index have been calculated for particular sites. Plant biomass is declining in Central Mongolia, and the onset of spring growth in Gobi‐steppe boundary areas is being delayed. Water resources such as rivers and springs are decreasing in this region. Pastoral systems are very sensitive to changes in climate and ecosystems. Not only have spring and summer become harsher for herders due to reduced forage and water resources, but also delayed snow or no snow conditions in winter are affecting herders because livestock use snow as a water source. Vulnerability of pastoral socio‐ecological systems to climate and land use changes has been assessed at community level. Cultural landscape fragmentation appears to be one of the critical factors for vulnerability of pastoral communities. Pastoral communities that use their traditional cultural landscapes had less vulnerability relative to those that have lost their traditional resilience to cope with climate variability and extremes. Pastoral communities living in riparian zones have the highest socio‐ecological vulnerability primarily due to reduced mobility and as a consequence of rangeland degradation.