At least 200 reindeer carcasses are scattered across the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. They died from starvation – and climate change is to blame.
That’s according to the Norwegian Polar Institute, who are pointing the finger at the mounting climate crisis as the reason for the freak number of deaths.
Ever since reindeer were introduced to the area in 1978, 1,200km (746 miles) from the north pole, researchers have carried out an annual census of the animal’s population. Three ecologists from the institute identified the carcasses of around 200 reindeer, believed to have starved to death over winter.
Ashild Onvik Pedersen, the head of the census, attributed the high rate of mortality to climate change – which is even more extreme in the Arctic than other areas in the world.
As reported by The Guardian, Onvik Pedersen said:
Climate change is making it rain much more. The rain falls on the snow and forms a layer of ice on the tundra, making grazing conditions very poor for animals.
Researchers noted that along with finding the hundreds of dead bodies, many calves were undernourished.
Due to the milder winters, the rainfall is more dramatic across the islands that make up Svalbard. The build-up of rain on the ground inevitably turns to hard, impenetrable ice.
This creates a problem for reindeer – they use their hooves to dig into the snow to feed into vegetation in the winter. However, periods of time where they can’t push through the ice mean they are deprived of nourishment.
According to Onvik Pedersen, a death toll akin to this scale has only been recorded once before, following the winter of 2007/08.
Onvik Pedersen told Norway’s national broadcaster, NPK:
It is scary to find so many dead animals. This is a terrifying example of how climate change affects nature. It’s just sad.
As well as climate change, the deaths can be attributed to the relentlessly growing population of reindeer. The Norwegian Polar Institute have reported that the reindeer population has doubled since the 1980s, and now stands at 22,000.
The key word in the climate change conversation is ‘crisis’. Every week, it’s becoming a more prevalent issue around the world – despite how much Donald Trump dubs it to be ‘fake news’.
Just week, five European countries recorded record high temperatures, with the UK reaching a scorching high on July 25.
Earlier in July, a mountaineer discovered a lake 11,000ft high in the French Alps – absolutely stunning, but incredibly alarming.
Look at the photo below:
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Time to sound the alarm… The problem here? These two pictures were taken only 10 days apart… It was taken earlier on June 28th, first one by GuideMontBlanc, the second one was shared by Paul Todhunter. Only 10 days of extreme heat were enough to collapse, melt and form a lake at the base of the Dent du Géant and the Aiguilles Marbrées That I know, this is the first time anything like that as ever happened. Southern Europe and the Alps have been struck by a massive heatwave with temperature ranging from 40 to 50 degrees, the below 0 freezing altitude was as high as 4,700m (15,400ft) and during the day temperatures as high as 10 degrees Celsius (50 F) were felt on top of Mont Blanc 4,810m (15,780ft)… This is truly alarming glaciers all over the world are melting at an exponential speed… Photo Credit : Gianlunca Marra (@guidemontblanc ) #climbing #climber #climb #frenchalps #savoie #savoiemontblanc #hautesavoie #outdoors #globalwarming #mountaineering #mountains #mountain #montagne #montaña #montagna #montanhismo #mountaineer #alpinist #alpinism #alpinisme #alpinismo #alpi #alps #environment #savetheplanet #climatechange #montblanc @patagonia @beal.official @millet_mountain @blueiceclimbing
It’s not all doom and gloom. A recent tree-planting initiative made waves around the world, and activists are constantly fighting to promote positive action – some more theatrical than others.
We all need to listen to Bill Nye’s latest advice:
Grow the f*ck up. You’re not children anymore. I didn’t mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were 12, but you’re adults now and this is an actual crisis. Got it? Safety glasses off motherf*ckers
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.