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Tens of thousands of reindeer on the territory of Siberia die of hunger. Their food imprisoned ice

The culprit is somewhat unexpected side-effect of global climate change, which prepares herds of ungulates, the only available source of food. A similar events have already occurred in 2006 and 2013. Inform the New Scientist.

This effect is caused by the retreat of the ice floes, drifting at sea on the northern coast of Russia. Due to the gradual warming of them in some years much less. But this warming and loss of ice floating in the sea has unexpectedly cool sequel to the mainland. As? Without the white crust of ice at the coast is atypically changing local climate and the "heat of the off-season" leads to torrential rains. Rainfall hit the snowy tundra - and quickly přimrzají. Nor does it look like a problem at first. At least until the herds of reindeer tries to find food. It is impregnable but hidden under the cover of a frozen icy snow.

Sobi is seeking lichens, without which they can not survive the winter, under the drifted snow. "He even consults about two-centimeter layer of ice," said Bruce Forbes, a Finnish biologist at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi. But the combination of frozen rain and snow creates a soil unbreakable crusts, beneath which they are unable lichens to mine. "Between 2006 and 2013, reaching the surface crust forces of several tens of centimeters." In this first year was this climatic episode Life 20,000 reindeer, seven years later just 61,000.

This year could overcome these sad records, because the concentration of icebergs in the sea off the coast of Arctic Russia is at a historic low. Forbes admits uncertainty, as well as anxiety. "But if a similar event happens this year, this means that a vague uncertainty becomes something regular and relatively frequented. A significantly affecting its traditional model of the reindeer meat. Pastoralists have not yet recovered from the disaster three years ago. "Meteorological data so far do not give much room for doubt.

Like in 2006 and 2013 had been a significant loss of ice in the Barents Sea and Kersko. Absence ice leads to increased evaporation from the soil throughout the Yamal Peninsula and hence the air humidity. Ideal conditions for a perfect storm may now fatally round off a winter frost on the mainland that its minus forty degrees napršenou water can turn into an impenetrable ice.

In 2006, superimposed ice crust area of ​​27,000 km square, so the reindeer herders had simply where to go for better. In 2013, a similar situation claimed the lives of 61,000 pieces of reindeer, which is 22% of the local population. "The loss of one fifth of all animals in a single winter, it is something unprecedented," says Forbes. The truth gives him and Peter Pulsifer, project manager ELOK (cooperation of state organizations and local indigenous people to protect the Arctic). "It is another example of the interconnected relationships between the various components of ecological systems."

"Ice is a very significant component of the climate system as it regulates the transfer of heat between the water in rivers, oceans and the atmosphere," says Ed Blockley, head of the polar climate group British Hadley Centre. "Arctic ecosystems are more fragile than it might seem."

Author: Radomír Dohnal

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