Yamal Peninsula

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.

Read more…

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Planned Railway to Complete the Bisection of Yamal Peninsula

December 2, 2015 • Philip Burgess

Bovanenkovo-Sabetta railwaysNews from Yamal – according to a news report, the extension of the Bovanenkovo railway to the newly constructed seaport at Sabetta has been given official approval. The railway is already the most northerly railway in the world and this will extend it further northwards be several hundred kilometres, bringing the railway to the east coast of the Yamal Peninsula for the first time. The peninsula is the largest single area of reindeer husbandry in the world where primarily Nenets herders undertake long seasonal migrations with their reindeer. This railway will bisect migration routes and result in a sizeable footprint in the construction and operation zone.

On November 25, 2015, Legislative Assembly of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District approved the Law on participation in the strategic project “Construction and Operation of the New Non-Common Use Railway Line Bovanenkovo-Sabetta”. The railway is to be built and operated under the principles of private-public partnership with the conclusion of an agreement with the District’s Government.

Bovanenkovo-Sabetta railways

The new line will be a continuation of the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo line in compliance with the strategy for social and economic development of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District through 2020. It is particularly focused on ensuring the construction of railway infrastructure at Sabetta seaport and transportation of cargoes by the Northern Sea Route. Source.

You can see imagery of the railway on the Gazprom website.

 

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September is Back to School – For Herders of the Tundra too

September 2, 2014 • Philip Burgess

Nearly everywhere, children are heading back to school, also children of reindeer herders who are working on the tundra. It is a difficult time for all children – holidays are over, but it is especially difficult for children who live and work on the tundra as they will be leaving their families and life on the tundra for up to 9 months at a time. This has major repercussions for the transmission of knowledge on reindeer herding from generation to generation.

This has just occurred on the Yamal peninsula, the largest single area of reindeer husbandry in the world and it is a major undertaking, where up 3500 young people are transported to larger urban areas for schooling. (see here for a news piece in Russian)

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