Scientists studying the reindeer population on Svalbard, islands north of Norway, say that reindeer have begun to shrink. The Norwegian scientists have been studying a herd of wild reindeer since the 1990's, states ABC.
The reindeer aren't just shrinking a little bit. Since 1994, their size has decreased by between 10 and 12 percent. In 1994, adult Svalbard reindeer weighed an average of 120 pounds. In 2010, adult reindeer weighed 108 pounds, states Live Science.
Live Science explains that reindeer forage for lichen, their food source, under the snow during the winter. But because of warmer winter temperatures, rain has been more frequent than snow. That rain freezes, trapping the lichen beneath the ice.
Researcher Steve Albon, who led the study, told Live Science that the problem isn't going to just go away. "In the winter, over the 20 years we've been working there [Svalbard], the temperature has gone up 9 degrees Celsius [16.2 degrees Fahrenheit]. It's more likely that you'll get these periods where the temperatures go above freezing, and if there's any precipitation, [it later freezes]."
Global warming is dramatically affecting the Arctic. Live Science states that, as of November of 2016, the Arctic temperature was almost 13 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it has been in the past years. And the temperature at the North Pole? That was almost 36 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it has been in the past decades.
And if reindeer shrinking weren't bad enough, thanks to a "zombie anthrax" outbreak, thousands more reindeer died in 2016. Live Science reports that 75-year-old anthrax spores were released in Siberia as frost melted, possibly from a reindeer carcass which had contained the anthrax. Thanks again, global warming.
It's hard to ignore the fact that global warming is a real, serious issue. It's negatively affecting reindeer, and this, unfortunately, is just the tip of the iceberg if we don't get things under control.