The wild deer carcasses were found on the Arctic islands this summer by researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), which said it had never logged so many deaths at once in 40 years of monitoring the animals’ population level.
“It’s scary to find so many dead animals,” project leader Ashild Onvik Pedersen told state broadcaster NRK. “This is an example of how climate change affects nature. It is just sad.”
Svalbard’s capital Longyearbyen, the northernmost town on earth, is thought to be warming quicker than any other settlement on the planet, climate scientists warned earlier this year.
The milder temperatures in the region led to unusually heavy rainfall in December, leaving a thick layer of ice when the precipitation froze. This meant the reindeer could not dig through the hardened tundra to reach the vegetation they graze on in their usual pastures, the NPI said.
Read full story by Claire Baynes here