Posts Tagged ‘Abisko Scientific Research Station’

Changes in Consistency of Snow Causes Problems for Reindeer Herders in Scandinavia

December 3, 2010


Tuesday, 23 November 2010 10:56 Written by Jonni Skoglund, Sámiradio
Original article here

The consistency of snow has changed over the last twenty years. Observations at the Abisko Scientific Research Station in northern Sweden show that today’s snow contains more ice than before. This has created problems for reindeer owners, among others.

Alf Johansen, reindeer herder in Finnmark in north Norway is forced to feed his reindeer more often now to survive the winter. He points to two leading causes: stronger winds that create hard-packed snowdrifts which destroy the grazing land and mild periods in winter.

“Periods of mild temperatures combined with frost create ice. We know what that means. The reindeer will not graze,” Johansen says.

The consistency of snow has been measured at the Abisko Scientific Research Station since the 1960s. Researchers at Uppsala University have analysed the material and the results show that the amount of ice in the snow has increased from five to ten per cent.

“There are more layers of ice in the snow and we see in particular that the ice on the ground surface has increased considerably,” remarks Cecilia Johansson, meteorologist at Uppsala University.

The Uppsala scientists believe that this is because the average annual temperature has increased. “Winter temperatures are rising and this enables ice layers to form in the snow,” explains Cecilia Johansson.

For reindeer herder Alf Johansen this is disastrous. “Ice forms on the ground in periods with a milder temperature and this causes the reindeer to stop grazing.”

Reindeer and Other Herbivors Determine the Tree Line – Not Warmth

December 3, 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010 11:17 Written by Gustaf Klarin, SR Vetenskapsradion
Original article here
It is not principally a warmer climate that is making the tree line creep upwards in many directions in the Swedish mountains. This is shown in a new study from the Torneträsk region in northern Sweden. There are several other factors that affect the spread of trees more than higher temperatures.

It is mainly grazing reindeer, insect attacks, and several other factors that affect the spread of the mountainous forest, more than the changed temperature situation.

“Tree line can go up, down or stay in the same position even during the same climatic period. That has not being showed before,” says Terry Callaghan, director of the Abisko Scientific Research Station.

Researchers were able to see that precisely reindeer grazing affects more than the temperature, since the tree line advanced furthest upward during the cold period that started in the late 1960s and continued through the 1970s, it was a time of fewer reindeer.

A warmer climate has more of an indirect effect through, for example, there being more insects that can damage trees.

Many climate models expect the forest in the tundra and the upper Arctic will expand heavily northward in the next hundred years because of higher temperatures. But the new research indicates that the assumptions may be grossly inaccurate. The effect of grazing reindeer and moose must be reckoned with.

“We can not just expect the tree line to move northwards, we have to look in more detail,” Terry Callaghan says.