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

Forbes, BC; Kumpula, T; Meschtyb, N; Laptander, R; Macias-Fauria, M; Zetterberg, P; Verdonen, M; ... Bartsch, A; + view all (2016) Sea ice, rain-on-snow and tundra reindeer nomadism in Arctic Russia. Biology Letters , 12 (11) , Article 20160466. 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0466. Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: Sea ice, rain-on-snow and tundra reindeer nomadism in Arctic Russia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0466
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2016.0466
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Biology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine - Other Topics, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Rangifer tarandus, Yamal Peninsula, Nenets herders, Barents and Kara seas, West Siberia, climate change, CLIMATE-CHANGE, AMPLIFICATION, DECLINE
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1536582
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