Claim: Climate is killing off the Reindeer

Strolling reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) in the Kebnekaise valley, Lappland, Sweden.
Strolling reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) in the Kebnekaise valley, Lappland, Sweden. By Alexandre Buisse (Nattfodd) – self-made (, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Professor Bruce Forbes has speculated that increasing frequency of rain in the Arctic, which freezes to hard ice, is starving the reindeer by preventing them from breaking through to their frozen fodder.

80,000 reindeer have starved to death as Arctic sea ice retreats

By Andy Coghlan

It’s not just polar bears that are suffering as Arctic sea ice retreats.

Tens of thousands of reindeer in Arctic Russia starved to death in 2006 and 2013 because of unusual weather linked to global warming. The same conditions in the first half of November led to both famines, which killed 20,000 deer in 2006 and 61,000 in 2013.

Sea ice retreated and unseasonally warm temperatures contributed to heavy rains, which later froze the snow cover for months, cutting off the reindeer’s usual food supply of lichen and other vegetation.

“Reindeer are used to sporadic ice cover, and adult males can normally smash through ice around 2 centimetres thick,” says Bruce Forbes at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, who led the study. “But in 2006 and 2013, the ice was several tens of centimetres thick.”

This September saw the second-lowest level of sea-ice cover on record in the Arctic, and there is fear of another famine.

“If we see such events again this year, it could mean that they’re becoming more frequent,” says Forbes. “Now is the risk window, and if it happens again, it will be a major problem for traditional reindeer herders still suffering from losses in 2013.”

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

Sea ice, rain-on-snow and tundra reindeer nomadism in Arctic Russia

Bruce C. Forbes, Timo Kumpula, Nina Meschtyb, Roza Laptander, Marc Macias-Fauria, Pentti Zetterberg, Mariana Verdonen, Anna Skarin, Kwang-Yul Kim, Linette N. Boisvert, Julienne C. Stroeve, Annett Bartsch

Sea ice loss is accelerating in the Barents and Kara Seas (BKS). Assessing potential linkages between sea ice retreat/thinning and the region’s ancient and unique social–ecological systems is a pressing task. Tundra nomadism remains a vitally important livelihood for indigenous Nenets and their large reindeer herds. Warming summer air temperatures have been linked to more frequent and sustained summer high-pressure systems over West Siberia, Russia, but not to sea ice retreat. At the same time, autumn/winter rain-on-snow (ROS) events have become more frequent and intense. Here, we review evidence for autumn atmospheric warming and precipitation increases over Arctic coastal lands in proximity to BKS ice loss. Two major ROS events during November 2006 and 2013 led to massive winter reindeer mortality episodes on the Yamal Peninsula. Fieldwork with migratory herders has revealed that the ecological and socio-economic impacts from the catastrophic 2013 event will unfold for years to come. The suggested link between sea ice loss, more frequent and intense ROS events and high reindeer mortality has serious implications for the future of tundra Nenets nomadism.

Read more:

It seems a bit premature to call the end of Reindeer. Reindeer evolved into their current form over half a million years ago, according to Wikipedia the earliest remnant was dated to 680,000BP – 620,000BP. Since then they have survived several interglacials, including the warm Eemian interglacial, a 15,000 year interglacial which was at least 1-2C warmer than today.

The climate has also likely been significantly warmer in the recent past, as the following Climategate email (0907975032.txt) demonstrates;

From: Rashit Hantemirov

To: Keith Briffa

Subject: Short report on progress in Yamal work

Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 19:17:12 +0500

Reply-to: Rashit Hantemirov

Dear Keith,

I apologize for delay with reply. Below is short information about state of Yamal work.

Samples from 2,172 subfossil larches (appr. 95% of all samples), spruces (5%) and birches (solitary finding) have been collected within a region centered on about 67030’N, 70000’E at the southern part of Yamal Peninsula. All of them have been measured.

Success has already been achieved in developing a continuous larch ring-width chronology extending from the present back to 4999 BC. My version of chronology (individual series indexed by corridor method) attached (file “yamal.gnr”). I could guarantee today that last 4600-years interval (2600 BC – 1996 AD) of chronology is reliable. Earlier data (5000 BC – 2600 BC) are needed to be examined more properly.

Using this chronology 1074 subfossil trees have been dated. Temporal distribution of trees is attached (file “number”). Unfortunately, I can’t sign with confidence the belonging to certain species (larch or spruce) of each tree at present.

Ring width data of 539 dated subfossil trees and 17 living larches are attached (file “yamal.rwm”). Some samples measured on 2 or more radii. First letter means species (l- larch, p- spruce, _ – uncertain), last cipher – radius. These series are examined for missing rings. If you need all the dated individual series I can send the rest of data, but the others are don’t corrected as regards to missing rings.

Residuary 1098 subfossil trees don’t dated as yet. More than 200 of them have less than 60 rings, dating of such samples often is not confident. Great part undated wood remnants most likely older than 7000 years.

Some results (I think, the temperature reconstruction you will done better than me):

Millennium-scale changes of interannual tree growth variability havebeen discovered. There were periods of low (5000-2800 BC), middle (2800-1700 BC) and high interannual variability (1700 BC – to the present).

Exact dating of hundreds of subfossil trees gave a chance to clear up the temporal distribution of trees abundance, age structure, frequency of trees deaths and appearances during last seven millennia. Assessment of polar tree line changes has been carried out by mapping of dated subfossil trees.

According to reconsructions most favorable conditions for tree growth have been marked during 5000-1700 BC. At that time position of tree line was far northward of recent one. [Unfortunately, region of our research don’t include the whole area where trees grew during the Holocene. We can maintain that before 1700 BC tree line was northward of our research area. We have only 3 dated remnants of trees from Yuribey River sampled by our colleagues (70 km to the north from recent polar tree line) that grew during 4200-4016 and 3330-2986 BC.]

This period is pointed out by low interannual variability of tree growth and high trees abundance discontinued, however, by several short (50-100 years) unfavorable periods, most significant of them dated about 4060-3990 BC. Since about 2800 BC gradual worsening of tree growth condition has begun. Significant shift of the polar tree line to the south have been fixed between 1700 and 1600 BC. At the same time interannual tree growth variability increased appreciably. During last 3600 years most of reconstructed indices have been varying not so very significant. Tree line has been shifting within 3-5 km near recent one. Low abundance of trees has been fixed during 1410-1250 BC and 500-350 BC. Relatively high number of trees has been noted during 750-1450 AD.

There are no evidences of moving polar timberline to the north during last century.

Please, let me know if you need more data or detailed report.

Best regards,

Rashit Hantemirov

Lab. of Dendrochronology

Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology

8 Marta St., 202

Ekaterinburg, 620144, Russia

e-mail: rashit@xxxxxxxxx

Fax: xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Whatever climatic variation is occurring in the present day, at least in terms of its impact on the Arctic, is insignificant compared to natural variation which occurred in past millennia of the Holocene, or even within the last 1000 years.

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November 16, 2016 7:43 pm

Will reindeer replace polar bear as the new mascot for the global warming movement? Since the polar bears didn’t die off as expected.

Reply to  Nash
November 16, 2016 8:12 pm

Nash that was because the insufferables were in power. Now the deplorables are in the White House, the modeleld dying of polar bears in the future will increase. Oops, sorry, MAY increase.

Ron Clutz
Reply to  Jon
November 16, 2016 8:27 pm

Nah, it’s Christmas; time to switch the mascot.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Jon
November 17, 2016 3:42 am

Santa can use caribou. Plentiful in Canada, and nobody would know the difference.

Reply to  Jon
November 17, 2016 8:36 am

Arctic bird droppings may help keep temperatures cool in the Arctic, researchers have found.
They say massive colonies of seabirds create an equally massive amount of waste.
This releases ammonia gas, which reacts with sulfuric acid and water vapor to form clusters of molecules in the atmosphere – which then affect cloud formation.

Reply to  Jon
November 17, 2016 1:23 pm

And also, all that whitish bird poo on the rocks helps raise the libido… I mean albedo as well.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Jon
November 17, 2016 2:02 pm

Reindeer are just like Polar Bears to most of the population. They have only seen them in Zoos and really have no knowledge of their habitat, food needs or anything else that is not ‘media provided’. They only see the spin that is applied to the picturesque and cuddly-looking creatures.

Reply to  Nash
November 16, 2016 8:13 pm

They did too die off, you denier! In 1970, there were about 5000 polar bears in the world. Today, there are only 25000 – 30000 left! ……… /sarc

Reply to  Kamikazedave
November 16, 2016 9:14 pm

Less all the time! There are less poley bears today than tomorrow, and yesterday there were less than today. It’s worser that we thought!

Reply to  Kamikazedave
November 17, 2016 3:24 am

Last thing I heard the Russian govt. was suggesting a massive kull of reindeer because they have been bred to the point where there are far too many for the land to support.
If they are dying of starvation it may be nature trying to redress human interference.
However, I’m sure that left-wing lierz at the Guardian and the rest of the media will manage to spin this into another “Christmas is cancelled” scare story for children : no presents will be delivered this year because all of Santa’s reindeer are DEAD !

Reply to  Kamikazedave
November 17, 2016 7:42 am

I’m willing to bet that every polar bear that was alive in 1970 has died.

Reply to  Kamikazedave
November 17, 2016 10:21 am

They didn’t get the message – “It’s not just polar bears that are suffering as Arctic sea ice retreats”.

Jonah Varlik
Reply to  Nash
November 17, 2016 5:48 am

Let me understand this: We are all living normal, non-elitist lives, so we are creating more CO2 (which is a plant food). This (allegedly) makes the planet warmer, so that the ice melts. Where did the ice causing reindeer starvation come from? Aliens?
Oh well, soon the drowning polar bears can grab on to floating reindeer carcasses.

Reply to  Nash
November 17, 2016 8:05 am

No polar bears at Rovaniemi. The reindeer is not threatened, but there are too many of them.
The number is controlled by human herders. Reindeer is an expensive meat product. Herding there is also a privilege of the natives, not Finns.
You probably need to copy paste the text to get it translated from Finnish.

Reply to  Hugs
November 17, 2016 10:00 am

Wait? Finns aren’t native to Finland?

Lawrie Ayres
Reply to  Hugs
November 17, 2016 6:33 pm

I think there are too many “scientists” trying to be published. Just imagine if 97% climate scientists went away.

November 16, 2016 7:43 pm

Luckily for Alaskan caribou, the pipeline allows them to calve without their newborns freezing. Caribou population has exploded since the pipeline.

Reply to  Chimp
November 16, 2016 8:02 pm

You are so right.

Reality: Thirty years later we can see the effects of the pipeline on the caribou. Walter Hickel, a former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and governor of Alaska, said that the caribou herd has not only survived, but flourished. In 1977, as the Prudhoe region started delivering oil to America’s southern 48 states, the Central Arctic caribou herd numbered 6,000; it has since grown to 27,128. Alaskas Department of Fish and Game Web site reports that in general, caribou have not been adversely affected by human activities in Alaska. Pipelines and other manmade objects have been built to accommodate caribou movements, and the animals have adapted to people and machines. link

The experts were wrong … again.

Reply to  commieBob
November 16, 2016 9:41 pm

Not just the caribou have benefited from the pipeline, but the carnivores which feed upon them. Bears walk on the pipeline to keep their feet warm.

November 16, 2016 7:47 pm

Weren’t these the same reindeer that died of anthrax? The earlier post and discussion on that subject got into the recent increase in the size of the herd, and discontinuance of anthrax immunization, etc. Further, Briffa and the notion a “treemometer” is something of a bete noir, or am I seriously mistaken?

Ian Magness
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 16, 2016 11:52 pm

I think you are right about the anthrax. Also, correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t these controlled, farmed herds of caribou? What effect does that have and have the wild herds suffered in the same way? Where is the duscussion and analysis of this? This really does look like a pile of reindeer scat.

Reply to  Ian Magness
November 17, 2016 4:05 am

Yes, anthrax has affected these same herds…
They aren’t farmed in the US or European sense…
They are moved about by nomadic herders over vast open areas/long distances.

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 17, 2016 2:24 am

The report on Anthrax outbreak is here —
The numbers for the total numbers of deer in the Yamal is interesting when compared to the reported starved deer.

Reply to  tom0mason
November 17, 2016 7:53 am

700,000 in the Yamal penninsula. That’s a lot of reindeer! I wonder how many have red, light up noses? (Thats a joke Lief)

November 16, 2016 7:49 pm

The email shows that in 1998 Briffa was clearly told there was no evidence of warming in the Yamal Peninsula. He then cooked up his thing.
I don’t understand why Briffa isn’t in jail.

Reply to  commieBob
November 16, 2016 8:25 pm

Finding it hard to understand why the entire Hockey Team is not in jail.

Reply to  commieBob
November 17, 2016 6:29 am

AND alluded to evidence of the Medieval Warm Period….
“Relatively high number of trees has been noted during 750-1450 AD.”

November 16, 2016 7:56 pm

As soon as he mentioned the polar bears I figured it was BS.

November 16, 2016 8:03 pm

I thought Chernobyl contamination killed all the reindeer.

November 16, 2016 8:05 pm

Before climate change, it was radiation that was going to end civilization.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
November 16, 2016 8:12 pm

Climate change or CO2 global warming is a continuation if yhe radiation narrative. One was used to slow nuclear power development. The other is the counter attack.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
November 16, 2016 8:13 pm

Before radiation it was dynamite, before dynamite it was sinfulness … same old, same old.

November 16, 2016 8:16 pm

80,000 reindeer have starved to death as Arctic sea ice retreats.
But no evidence that the reyreat of September sea ice extent in the Arctic is related to warming.

Reply to  chaamjamal
November 16, 2016 8:16 pm


November 16, 2016 8:18 pm

Add them to the list of catastrophes that either aren’t happening or never materialize.

Martin Moffit
November 16, 2016 8:18 pm

This announcement is just in time for the Christmas season. Facts don’t matter when you are trying to scare the little tots into supporting your agenda.

John Silver
Reply to  Martin Moffit
November 17, 2016 7:29 am

Meh, Santa rides a snow mobile these days anyway.

November 16, 2016 8:28 pm

It’s true that we are not living in our grandparents’ climate.
What they don’t mention is that our grandparents were not living in their grandarents’ climate.

Timo Kuusela
November 16, 2016 9:20 pm

I just hope that Greens take The Reindeer as a new Mascot. They would shoot their remaining leg off because here in Finland the real reason of reindeer problem is well known: There just are too many reindeers that eat everything in their path.Their population is already too big.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Timo Kuusela
November 16, 2016 10:45 pm

That sounds like a clear signal to increase reindeer sausage production.
I don’t know anything about Finland’s reindeer issues. All I know about modern Finland is that they build fine Sako rifles and make Vihtavuori rifle powder and Lapua bullets and brass cases, all highly sought after, here in the USA. Looks like there might be a solution in there somewhere.

November 16, 2016 9:35 pm

Oh, my God! Now Santa won’t be able to deliver gifts, all because of Trump!

November 16, 2016 9:40 pm

Is that why Santa now drives a SUV

November 16, 2016 9:41 pm

Doubt that the author knows the difference between reindeer and caribou. 🙂

Alan Robertson
Reply to  rogerthesurf
November 17, 2016 12:06 am

Since the author didn’t even mention caribou, do you have some valid point to make?

Reply to  Alan Robertson
November 17, 2016 7:55 am

Oh Alan!

Mayor of Venus
Reply to  rogerthesurf
November 17, 2016 12:05 pm

The most important difference is caribou can’t fly.

November 16, 2016 9:41 pm

Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
The Forbes et al. reindeer study would not have made the esteemed pages of WUWT, nor received government funding and grants without prefacing the study with “climate change”.
I detect a (lucrative) pattern.
Nuff said.

Dodgy Geezer
November 16, 2016 10:14 pm

Climate change does seem to be correlated well with one phenomenon.
The more we are lied to, the more anti-establishment political decisions are being made…

November 16, 2016 10:30 pm

A few years back, that fraud, Suzuki, scared kids with a disgusting Christmas webpage that told kids to send money because the Noth Pole was melting and the elves and Santa were drowning.
Oh geez, now the fruit fly guy will be demanding money to save Rudolph and his buddies. 😊

Eyal Porat
November 16, 2016 11:59 pm

What caught my eye was the fact the rain later froze for months…
Maybe it isn’t all warming after all?

Jonah Varlik
Reply to  Eyal Porat
November 17, 2016 5:50 am

“Think” this through? ?????

Reply to  Eyal Porat
November 17, 2016 6:40 am

Simple answer:
Rain from a warmer region/warm air on cold ground makes ice.
Snow from a cold region/cold air on cold ground stay snow.

David J Wendt
November 17, 2016 12:38 am

“Tens of thousands of reindeer in Arctic Russia starved to death in 2006 and 2013 because of unusual weather linked to global warming. The same conditions in the first half of November led to both famines, which killed 20,000 deer in 2006 and 61,000 in 2013.”
From the Wikipedia entry on Reindeer
Rangifer tarandus by country
In 2013, the Taimyr herd in Russia was the largest herd in the world. In 2000, the herd increased to 1,000,000 but by 2009, there were 700,000 animals.[53][59] In the 1950s, there were 110,000.[60]
There are three large herds of migratory tundra wild reindeer in central Siberia’s Yakutia region: Lena-Olenek, Yana-Indigirka and Sundrun herds. While the population of the Lena-Olenek herd is stable, the others are declining.[60]
Further east again, the Chukotka herd is also in decline. In 1971, there were 587,000 animals. They recovered after a severe decline in 1986, to only 32,200 individuals, but their numbers fell again.[61] According to Kolpashikov, by 2009 there were less than 70,000.[60]
Almost by definition Reindeer habitat is some of least hospitable real estate on Earth. Even though many reindeer are parts of at least semi-domesticated herds, they are subject to a wide variety of highly variable survivability factors which has lead to their wildly various population numbers over the years. These clucks take to events and in the well established pattern of climate alarmism create a projection of inevitable extinction.
I don’t think so.

November 17, 2016 1:28 am

When there is a lack of food and water for the kangaroos in the drier parts of Australia, they move towards the regions that have an ample suppl; the same goes for our emus. I suspect that the reindeer are equally intelligent creatures and will move to get a feed.
There are times when I have to get off the couch -due to a lack of fodder; and find myself with ample, just a short walk away. 🙂

November 17, 2016 1:29 am

OOPS …supply

November 17, 2016 1:58 am

The problem is, the Reindeer now “identify” as Polar Bears and are not quit sure which bathroom to use. !

November 17, 2016 2:13 am

Come on people, all the childish AGW advocates are after is to be able to point fingers and chant something nasty

You killed Bambi!

Are you prepared for the real imagined hurt that is going to cause?

November 17, 2016 2:47 am

Reindeer got themselves to blame, they produce lot of dung.
Arctic ice was supposed to disappear by the last September, but it didn’t.
Since all climate models show that should have been the case, there must be a good reason for it not doing so,
The cause is sh i t, yes birds’ sh i t
“A team of researchers with members from Canada, Sweden and U.S. has found that bird excrement may be playing a role in cooling the Arctic during its warmer months.”

John Harmsworth
Reply to  vukcevic
November 17, 2016 7:06 pm

4 million sq miles of bird poop? What are doing mining fertilizer? Ridiculous!

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Shijiazhuang
November 17, 2016 3:42 am

It is a good thing that 61,000 is a spit in the ocean of the deer population.
“Tens of thousands of reindeer in Arctic Russia starved to death in 2006 and 2013 because of unusual weather linked to global warming.”
It is interesting that they haven’t worried much about the millions of domestic animals that died in Mongolia that same year for the same reason (2006).
It is a natural event and if the globe warms or cools, the date at which it happens shifts. I was told by a Masters student yesterday that the temperature somewhere in Mongolia this week is -47C which is easily a month or two early. It is going to be a terrible year.
Freezing to death is no better than starving to death. The record cold for Ulaanbaatar was set years ago (2002?) and it is hoped it will not return. ROS is a major killer. So is terrible cold. There is not the slightest indication that ROS events are ’caused by anthropogenic global warming’ or made worse by that effect, should it one day be determined to exist.
When it is warmer reindeer do very much better because there is so much more to eat. Duh.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Shijiazhuang
November 17, 2016 7:22 am

Pardon my ignorance, but what does ROS stand for? I’ve Googled it, but can’t find anything that appears to make sense in the context. Maybe it’s just too early in the morning.

Maggy Wassilieff
Reply to  Monna Manhas
November 17, 2016 8:25 am


November 17, 2016 4:08 am

There is no doubt these reindeer died due to frozen rain preventing them feeding…
The link to local sea ice conditions is also firmly established.
All we need now is to demonstrate a continued decline in arctic sea ice – something else clearly indisputeable…

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Shijiazhuang
Reply to  Griff
November 17, 2016 4:35 am

Do you think the mass death from starvation of animals in Mongolia the same year, also from ROS, was cause by the retreat of sea ice?
As you have pointed out, the sea ice retreat has been inexorable, pretty much, yet the conditions it supposedly spawns are no more frequent than they were before.
When I visited Mongolia in the winter of 2007 there were collection plates out in offices to collect money for buying animals for those who lost their entire herds because of ROS. Thus it is not a Siberian thing, it is not a sea ice thing, it is not a temperature thing, it is a weather thing. Life’s a bitch in the North, and then you die.

Phil R
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Shijiazhuang
November 17, 2016 6:58 am

Out of curiosity, I was interested in trying to find an estimate of the total reindeer population and see how that compared with the number of deaths reported. I was also trying to find a somewhat non-biased/less biased website that would not skew towards the global warming BS. while searching, I came across this from NOAA:
Couple quotes from the report:

Local and traditional knowledge has indicated that caribou go through periods of abundance and scarcity every 40-60 years. However, relatively objective population estimates have only been employed since the late 1960s and early 1970s. These estimates have shown one single “cycle” over the last 40 years. This cycle is “somewhat” synchronous around the Arctic, although there is a lot of individual herd variation.


There has been considerable concern that declining numbers of caribou in the last decade were associated with global warming (Vors and Boyce 2009); however, no clear link between individual herd declines and climate was ever established.

Interesting, apparently objective comments from NOAA not blaming climate change (they actually said global warming).

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Shijiazhuang
November 17, 2016 7:52 am

In Griff’s mind, anything that supports his religious beliefs is instantly promoted to indisputable.
Like his weird belief that sea ice is on some kind of continuous declining trend.

Reply to  Griff
November 17, 2016 5:00 am

Freezing rain in winter has always been the bane of caribou. Peter Freuchen tells in his memories (Min grønlandske ungdom, 1936) that when he and Knud Rasmussen founded the Thule trading post in 1910 there were virtually no caribou in Northwest Greenland. They had all starved to death a few years earlier after a heavy rain in winter.

Reply to  Griff
November 17, 2016 9:36 am

Griff, you never have any doubt. It must be wonderful to be so absolutely certain of every little thing. I, on the other hand, are only certain of one thing.
Isn’t it time for you to change your username and begin pretending to be someone else?

Michael Oxenham
November 17, 2016 4:32 am

New Scientist ? Surely Non-Scientist.

November 17, 2016 4:50 am

“We behold the face of nature bright with gladness, we often see superabundance of food; we do not see or we forget, that the birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on insects or seeds, and are thus constantly destroying life; or we forget how largely these songsters, or their eggs, or their nestlings, are destroyed by birds or beasts of prey; we do not always bear in mind, that, though food may now be superabundant, it is not so at all seasons of each recurring year.”
“A struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high rate at which at which all organic beings tend to increase. Every being, which during its natural lifetime produces several eggs or seeds, must suffer destruction during some period of its life, and during some season or occasional year, otherwise, on the principle of geometric increase, its numbers would quickly become so inordinately great that no country could support the product.”
“But we have better evidence on this subject than mere theoretical calculations, namely, the numerous recorded cases of the astonishingly rapid increase of various animals in a state of nature, when circumstances have been favorable to then during two or three following seasons.”
-Charlie Darwin
Where did this strange idea of stable populations come from?

Reply to  Khwarizmi
November 17, 2016 8:13 am

Assume balance to make calculations simpler.
And there you go.

November 17, 2016 1:03 pm

In 1992 and 1993, I spent time on the NWT north of Yellowknife. Amzing to see tens of thosands of caribou over a few days. Just WOW!
In 2014, I was fortunate to spend one week on the Bothia Penn. We saw a few caribou. Three elders independently told me thee were far fewer caribou because the Inuit were over hunting. Just killing too many.

November 17, 2016 1:12 pm

Without getting into a lot of useless details:
— Reindeer are migratory animals (they can migrate up to 3000 km in a year). That means that they go to where the food is. However, these are domesticated herds which means that they are limited in their range. I suspect that has more to do with this problem than anything else.
— The type of weather pattern reported here repeats about once every decade. Bruce Forbes has been studying in the region for 30 years. I don’t believe there is any long term tracking of this sort of weather event to determine if it is increasing or stable.
— There is a link between these events and Ocean Oscillations, as you would expect — “The severe events of 2006 and 2013 both occurred when the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) was in its ‘positive’ phase, meaning that warmer winters are more likely.”
— The recommended solution to this problem is more mobile slaughterhouses (which is sort of funny if you think about it.) ‘The prognosis is uncertain in terms of when another such event might occur,’ Research Professor Bruce Forbes, from the university’s Arctic Centre, told The Siberian Times. ‘However, we propose in the paper that more mobile slaughterhouses should be deployed on Yamal. … In the most recent event of 2013 many smaller private herds not only lost all their animals, but received no monetary compensation because the animals starved on the tundra.’
— The entire theory is based on the increases of “Rain on Snow” events (ROS). Basically ROS events are rare north of the Arctic Circle, but more common south of it. The reindeer can dig through snow to eat, but not more than 2 cm of ice. With this in mind, migration may not be a solution as the obvious direction is to migrate south. The data is only available from satellite observations from 2001 to 2008 and by anecdotal memories from the local Yamal and Nenets.
Here is the original research paper:

November 18, 2016 7:15 am

Nature does not abhor death.

Dale S
November 18, 2016 7:20 am

The authors state that “this is the first study to propose a link between brief but spatially significant retreat of November sea ice and massive ROS events over the Russian mainland.” In particular they describe the 2013 event and mention BKS sea ice loss in Nov 5-10 2013, referencing figure S4 in the electronic supplementary material. I don’t see any figures following the link to the electronic supplementary material (user error?), but the NSDIC MASIE regional charts happily are showing early November right now for the past five years.
The Barents Sea shows extent reducing steadily from about 120K km2 on Nov 2 to about 60K km2 on Nov 7, then rising up to about 100K km2 on Nov 9 before falling back to 90K km2 on Nov 10. While these movements are large as a percentage, neither the rate of change nor the area seems at all exceptional over the period shown. While 2014 has substantial extent in Mid Oct – Mid Nov, the other four years are all between 0 and 140 km2 during this period, and temporary declines are common. Further, the sea ice extent on Nov 10 is actually slightly *higher* than the extent on Nov 5. 2013 is actually the second or third highest throughout Nov 5 – Nov 10th.
BKS also includes the Kara Sea, and here we see extent reducing steadily from about 800K km2 on Nov 2 to about 725K km2 on Nov 7, then increasing to a bit over 750K km2 on Nov 9th and nearly the same on the 10th. Again the Nov 2 – Nov 7 decline doesn’t seem exceptional on the chart in either slope or magnitude, and again the Nov 10th extent is actually a bit *higher* than on Nov 5. 2013 is the second highest year depicted, not far behind 2014 — both 2016 and 2012 are much lower.
Now it’s possible that figure S4 shows something dramatically different and truly exceptional, due to a different source or metric. But in order to justify a link between very rare massive ROS events and brief sea ice retreats, I wouldn’t expect the brief sea retreats associated with massive ROS events (a grand sample of two) to look unexceptional in any source. Perhaps this paper is the “first study to propose a link” between brief sea ice retreats and massive ROS events for good reason.

November 18, 2016 1:11 pm

“……..Tens of thousands of reindeer in Arctic Russia starved to death in 2006 and 2013 because of unusual weather linked to global warming……..”.
It is that simple isn’t it. Just mention the word “linked”. No explanation just an assumption! How many tens of thousands by the way? It wouldn’t take too many of that magnitude to wipe them out.
Imprecise garbage and let us hope that they will be called on these studies sooner rather than later. Maybe next year?

Kari Hämäläinen
November 18, 2016 7:25 pm

Here in Finland. Lapland, we have problems wiyh reindeers. They are TOO MANY and they eat everything to end so they are practically starwing because of overpopulation.
Article is in finnish. Only inside fences there are groving natural food or Norvegian which is also protected by fences.

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