Bruce Forbes

Mass Reindeer Deaths Linked to Extreme Climate Events on Yamal

November 16, 2016 • Philip Burgess
Dead Reindeer, death due to extreme climate event. Photo: Roma Serotetto

Dead Reindeer, death due to extreme climate event. Photo: Roma Serotetto

From the press release announcing a new paper entitled ‘Sea ice, rain-on-snow and tundra reindeer nomadism in Arctic Russia’ published today in the journal, Biology Letters. You can read the article in full here.

Scientists have interviewed nomadic reindeer herders in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug of West Siberia, the world’s most productive reindeer herding region, to look at how global warming is affecting their way of life. While rain-on-snow generally does not cause problems in spring, it can be catastrophic for reindeer in the autumn when rain turns to an ice crust as normal freezing temperatures return. This crust, often several centimetres thick,
prevents the reindeer from feeding on fodder beneath the snow throughout the winter
months. Two extreme weather events in 2006 and 2013 caused mass starvation among the
reindeer herds, and researchers for the first time have linked these extreme weather events
on the coastal mainland in northwest Russia with sea ice loss in the adjoining Barents and
Kara seas.

The most recent rain-on-snow event of November 2013 resulted in 61 000 reindeer deaths,
about 22% out of 275 000 reindeer on the Yamal Peninsula, says the paper, which warns
that these events seem to be increasing in severity.

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ENSINOR Wrap Up Workshop – A Summary

February 20, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The ENSINOR workshop involving key stakeholders from indigenous peoples (including several reindeer herders), administration and oil and gas officials was held in Rovaniemi in December, organised by the Arctic Centre, Finland. Florian Stammler and Philip Burgess have coauthored this summary.. On 10-11 December 2007 the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland held a 2-day workshop involving key stakeholders from northern Russia, Finland and Norway. Among the participants were indigenous representatives, oil and gas industry personnel, NGO representatives, government personnel, and a mix of natural and social scientists. Several members of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry were in attendance, including Anders Oskal, Svein Mathiesen, Philip Burgess and Ole Isak Eira. The workshop was the final activity of the 48-month project “Environmental and Social Impacts of Industrialization in Northern Russia (ENSINOR)”, which was funded by the Academy of Finland January 2004- December 2007. The project has made comparative case studies of oil and gas activities in two key federal districts – the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO).

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