Global Warming

Climate change in Lapland: Reindeer herders struggle

With the Arctic warming three times faster than the rest of the planet, reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland are already seeing the effects of climate change.

Tens of kilometres into the Arctic Circle, reindeer herder Anne Ollila ventures into -25C temperatures to feed her herd. This is an increasingly important task as the animals have difficulty getting enough food for themselves.

A 20-year study of reindeer on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago by the James Hutton Institute revealed in 2016 that reindeer had already got smaller and lighter. And researchers believe climate change is to blame.

Warmer winters mean more rain. When rain falls on snow, it freezes, locking reindeer’s food – such as lichen – beneath the ice. That means the animals are unable to smell or dig for it. As a result, researchers believe the reindeer starve, abort their calves, or give birth to much lighter young.

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