As reindeer go, the animals living on Svalbard might not be Santa’s first choice. They’re a smaller subspecies of their common mainland relatives, and to save energy they basically never run. But because they were nearly exterminated from Svalbard around 1900 — and were then protected in 1925 — the animals provide unique insights into how conservation can help species thrive.
The arctic archipelago of Svalbard is already experiencing dramatic effects from climate change. A new study shows how these changes can force wild reindeer to graze on seaweed, a strategy that increases their likelihood of survival— and is recorded in their poop.
Climate change is increasing the likelihood of extreme winter rain events in the Arctic. These kinds of winter storms on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago can cause a thick cap of ice to cover the forage that reindeer eat. You’d think that more frequent rain-on-snow events would spell the end for these arctic animals — but you’d be wrong.
Climate change in the Arctic means more winter rain, and consequently more rain falling on snow. The result can be a buildup of ice under the snow, which can wreak havoc with arctic ecosystems.
Every schoolchild knows about Rudolph the Reindeer and his magic red nose. But Rudolph’s real-life counterparts really do have a magic nose. The colder it is, the better it is in keeping the animals warm and hydrated.
The last week of January 2012 brought wild weather to the Norwegian arctic island archipelago of Svalbard and its largest town, Longyearbyen. A new cross-disciplinary study provides a comprehensive look at the effects of this extreme weather event on everything from town infrastructure to the natural environment.
The reindeer is a species that has done well for itself. There are nearly 3 million animals across large areas of the northernmost parts of the world. But where did Scandinavian reindeer actually come from?