Researchers: Climate change affects reindeer at Svalbard

Santa ClausA man dressed as Santa Claus.Photo: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

The reindeer at Svalbard has become leaner due to climate change, researchers report.

Santa Claus may thus have a challenge if he is to recruit reindeers from Svalbard to ferry his presents, says AFP.

A team led by Steve Albon from James Hutton Institute in Scotland has weighed reindeers at Svalbard over a period of 16 years. The weight has decreased by 12 percent during those years.

– Considering how important of body weight is for reproduction and survival, this is potentially a lot, says Albon.

Svalbard is one of the areas in the world that is most affected by global warming. Warmer winters lead to more rain, which often freezes on the ground. The layer of ice makes it difficult for the reindeer to obtain food.

Although ice is causing problems, they have got more reindeers in recent decades. Greater competition for food may also have contributed to weight loss.

Scientists believe that the Arctic may get more and leaner reindeers in the future, which will risk dying in droves if ice on the ground makes it impossible to find food.

61,000 reindeer supposedly died on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia two years ago because of such conditions.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today