Global climate change threatens reindeer, caribou

10/28/04

International network to track climate change effects on subsistence resource

FAIRBANKS, Alaska Global climate change could threaten the most important terrestrial subsistence resource in the circumpolar north reindeer and caribou.

To assess the effects of climate change on reindeer and caribou Rangifer is the scientific name - and the communities that depend on them, the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB) and Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service are hosting a workshop in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 31 and November 1, to launch the CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment network (CARMA).

"The goal of the CARMA network is to bring the right people together to see how we can collectively monitor the relationship between humans and Rangifer" said Gary Kofinas, CARMA organizer and professor of policy and management at IAB.

"Everyone is observing unprecedented changes in the Arctic such as an overall increase in temperature, changes in the variability of weather, changes effecting hunters' access to animals because of changes in snowpack and timing of snowpack," Kofinas said.

"This international network of government agencies, resource managers and users, community representatives and university researchers will work together to monitor the health of Rangifer populations in response to the significant climate and environmental changes occurring in the North," said Don Russell, CARMA organizer and Environment Canada's Manager of Circumpolar Global Change Program.

Workshop participants from Russia, Finland, Norway, Greenland, Canada, and the United States will define how the CARMA network will be structured and how the information will be shared among participants and the public.

"In northwestern North America there has been dramatic warming in the spring," Russell said. "But in the central barrens of Northwest Territories (NWT) and Nunavut the fall has undergone warming while east of Hudson Bay temperatures have actually dropped."

"We need to track how these changes affect the animals and the people whose cultures have depended on caribou and reindeer for thousands of years," Kofinas said.

"Within the CARMA network we can integrate the information we are getting from satellites, weather stations, biological monitoring, and community monitoring to get a better picture of the whole system," Russell said.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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