By 2030, two thirds of humanity is likely to live in urban areas. In many nations such as Mongolia, rapid urbanisation can be associated with development challenges where many people live with limited access to adequate urban infrastructure and services. There are many drivers of urbanisation in Mongolia. One of these drivers is thought to be a cold-climate disaster (dzud), that causes mass livestock fatality and consequent rural-urban migration, when nomadic herders are thought to seek alternative opportunities in urban centres such as the overcrowded capital city, Ulaanbaatar. As a result the city’s urban footprint is thought to spatially expand. The dynamics of this coupled human-physical system are not well understood. This project used mixed-methods, conducting qualitative and quantitative analyses of urban expansion in Ulaanbaatar. It used supervised classification on a 30-year time series of satellite images to measure the rate of change in urban areas from 1989-2019. To gather an understanding of the context of this phenomenon the spatial findings were compared with the opinions expressed in 26 semi-structured interviews with urban management experts in Mongolia to analyse the potential relationship between dzud and the rate of urban expansion. The findings may carry implications for the management of urbanisation in Mongolia, while enhancing our understanding of human-environment relations more broadly.