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Preventing water crises

Climate change is destroying hundreds of reindeer

Scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute have found an unprecedented reduction in Svalbard’s population of reindeer in 2019.

The researchers found more than two hundred reindeer carcasses, and the loss was caused by climate change: the milder winters have increased rainfall in the region, and that made the ground so icy that the animals could no longer dig up vegetation from underneath.

“The reindeer graze all over Svalbard, and in winter they dig up food from
the tundra. They can dig through
snow, but not ice,”

said Åshild Ønvik Pedersen, an ecologist with the institute.

The Arctic is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change: surface air there is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet. Longyearbyen, the largest town of the Svalbard archipelago, is considered the fastest-warming settlement on Earth.

According to a report published last December, the population of wild reindeer has dropped by 56 percent in the Arctic region Photo: Shutterstock
Further information: IFLScience

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