More Ice, Smaller Reindeer

More Ice, Smaller Reindeer

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Many animal species have been affected by climate change, and reindeer are one of them. Over the past twenty years, the reindeer found in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, just north of the Arctic Circle, have shrunk in size. Their aveage weight dropped by 12 percent – from 121 lbs in 1994 to 106 lbs, recorded in 2010.

Steve Albon of Scotland’s James Hutton Institute leads the research on the reindeer. He presented his findings on December 12th, 2016 at the annumal meeting of the British Ecological Society in Liverpool. “[The reindeer are] possibly at risk of catastrophic die-offs because of increased ice on the ground,” Albon warns.

The mere 15 pounds indicate the heavy toll that the changing climate has taken on the reindeer; body weight is essential to reproduction and survival. Their food, grass and lichen, are becoming blocked by ice sheets due to the rapid decrease in temperature as summer transitions to winter; the rain that falls freezes once it comes in contact with the ground. Lack of food for the female reindeer results in smaller, weaker calves born.

The question we pose to you is: how else can climate change affect animal life?

To read more about the reindeers in Svalbard, click here.

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