Climate Change is Coming for Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer

first_img Incredible Images From Space Capture the Death of a GlacierEating Less Meat Can Fight Climate Change, According to UN Report Christmas is just around the corner, but global climate change might be putting one the holiday’s most famous mascots in jeopardy. Reindeer, the giant, husky beasts that are fabled pull St. Nicholas’ flying sled, are losing weight.Near Svalbard, an archipelago nestled between the North Pole and Norway, reindeer have been dropping some serious poundage. As the temperatures in the Arctic hike upwards, Arctic wildlife is losing access to some of its most important food sources.This winter, the Arctic hit an all-time high, increasing by more than one degree over last year, and leaving some areas up to 36 degrees warmer than usual. That is cataclysmic. It’s helped melt a chunk of ice the size of India (yes, THAT India). It also means that much of the precipitation that used to fall as snow has come down as rain. While that might sound nice for people who have to drive, that rain seeps into the soil and eventually freezes, sometimes even forming a thick sheet of solid ice above ground. That locks away many of the grasses and mosses, keystones of a healthy reindeer diet. On average, reindeer have shed 15 lbs since the 1990s — dropping from 121 to a meager 106 lbs.AdChoices广告Steve Albon, an ecologist at the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, conducted a study to measure how climate has been affecting wildlife in the Arctic.“Warmer summers are great for reindeer, but winters are getting increasingly tough,” Albon told the Guardian. His study showed that scarce food has been causing premature and underweight reindeer calves, and in extreme cases, miscarriages.At the same time, warmer summers have helped boost the reindeer population, which sounds wonderful. But Albon said that this makes for a more unstable population. More reindeer that are smaller essentially means that the area is overpopulated with weaker animals, making them much more susceptible to sudden, environmental shocks.It’s much better, Albon says, to have a smaller number of heartier creatures. Their added constitution will help them weather a wider variety of conditions. But of course, reindeer aren’t the only species affected. Polar bears are famously hurting as the melting ice puts a dent in their seal-hunting in autumn and winter.It’s yet one more piece of evidence that shows that we are headed for some seriously tough times if we can’t severely curtail greenhouse gas emissions now. Stay on targetlast_img read more