Climate change has caused extreme weather events and increased global temperature. The deaths of more than 200 reindeers in Svalbard, Norway is just one of the many destructive impacts that have come about as a result of this phenomenon.
Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture, and history, reported that the reindeer were starved to death. Climate change has disrupted their access to the plants that they typically eat. It has been bringing warmer temperatures to Svalbard. This means more precipitation in the region. Experts also suspected that the heavy rainfall in December 2018 is responsible for the unusually high number of reindeer deaths.
|Photo Credit: Elin Vinje Jenssen / Norsk Polarinstitutt (via Live Science)|
Åshild Ønvik Pedersen, a Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) terrestrial ecologist, said, "It's scary to find so many dead animals.” According to the 10-week investigation of the NPI, reindeer population declined while the individual animals were much thinner than they should have been. They have also discovered that hundreds of reindeer carcasses showed signs of starvation. The report showed that the December heavy rainfall created a thick layer of ice called “tundra ice caps.” This has prevented the reindeers from reaching vegetation in their usual winter grazing pastures, forcing them to dig pits in shoreline snow to find seaweed and kelp. These are less nutritious than their usual food.
|Photo Credit: @norskpolarinstitutt on Instagram (via CBS News)|
According to CBS News, the news division of American television and radio service CBS, it is strange for reindeer to die of starvation in the winter. That’s why the number of food shortages and deaths is alarming. "Some of the mortality is natural because there were so many calves last year. But the large number we see now is due to heavy rainfall, which is due to global warming,” Pedersen said. NPI reported that Svalbard has been disproportionately affected by climate change. It has affected animals native to the region.