In the collective imagination, reindeer are associated with Christmas parties, snow: not surprisingly, because these animals have evolved to live in the Arctic regions, between snow and ice. But, in a sad paradox, it was the ice that caused the death of tens of specimens (perhaps more than 200) at the end of the last winter. The Norwegian Polar Institute points the finger at the climate crisis: the cause of reindeer death was the unexpected consequences of excessive heat.

Reindeer slow down global warming

Death of hunger. During the annual census carried out in the Svalbard archipelago, at about 1, 200 km from the North Pole, some researchers found the carcasses of about two hundred reindeer that, at a subsequent analysis, were starved to death. "Because of climate change, it rains much more than once, " explains Åshild Ønvik Pedersen, head of the census: "the rain falls on the snow, compacting it and forming a layer of ice on the tundra. It is this hard layer of ice that prevents animals from grazing and feeding. "

Global warming: the Svalbard reindeer die | Larissa T. Beumer / Uit

A scenario destined to worsen, if we consider that the climatic crisis in the Arctic is going much faster than the rest of the world: in fact, in the Svalbard islands, in fact, in the last 50 years the average temperature has risen by 4 ° C; for 2100, it is expected to arrive at +10 ° C.

The tropical forest of Svalbard

Fight for survival. Only after the winter of 2007-2008 had there been so many victims. The growing mortality is also due to the increase in the number of reindeer in the Norwegian archipelago. The fault, as in a vicious circle, is always climate change: summers are warmer, and more specimens find themselves grazing in the same area.