Not only polar bears but Arctic reindeer are facing challenges as a result of climate change.
Over the wintertime, Finland is home to about 200,000 reindeer. In snow-covered Lapland, 1,500 herders rely on the animals for their livelihood. Reindeer are bred for their meat, milk and fur. However, scientists are concerned that climate change has already a negative impact on these animals.
French researcher Stephanie Lefrere first came to Finland in 1998 to study the country’s moose population. She’s observed the gradual impact of climate change first hand.
“So, the Finnish Meteorological Institute has made research that shows us that mean temperatures have increased one degree and a half in Lapland over the past 150 years”, said a researcher from the Finnish Environment Institute, Stephanie Lefrere. “And, they have also made models that predict that in the future under the high emission scenario the temperatures – actually we’re speaking in average, of course – at mid-winter, are going to increase between four and ten degrees (Celsius),” added the scientist.
As a result of the changing weather conditions, the reindeer have less food. A 20-year study by Scotland’s James Hutton Institute found reindeer got smaller and lighter. Researchers believe the reindeer starve, abort their calves or give birth to much lighter young.
However, another study found that the grazing of these animals in the Arctic may help slow climate change.