SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: August 22, 2018

SNIP: Sweden’s indigenous Sami reindeer herders are demanding state aid to help them cope with the impact of this summer’s unprecedented drought and wildfires, saying their future is at risk as global warming changes the environment in the far north.

The Sami reindeer owners are asking for emergency funding to help pay for supplementary fodder as a replacement for winter grazing lands that could take up to 30 years to recover from the summer’s drought and fires.

“We are living with the effects of climate change,” Niila Inga, chair of the Swedish Sami Association, told the SVT news agency. “The alarm bells are ringing. We face droughts, heatwaves, fires. This is about the survival of the reindeer, and of Sami culture, which depends on them.”

Although warmer summers help lichen grow, warmer and wetter winters are increasingly leading to rainfall rather than snow during the coldest Arctic months. When temperatures fall back to below freezing, impenetrable sheets of ice form on ground that would normally be covered by a much softer crust of snow.

This leaves the reindeer, who habitually feed by digging into the snow and then grazing on the lichen beneath, unable to smell the vital food source or dig down to get to it, leading to some herds starving to death.