Climate Action

Population of Arctic reindeer has declined by over half

A new report by the Arctic NOAA has found that Arctic reindeer numbers have declined by over half.

  • 14 December 2018
  • Rachel Cooper

A new report by the Arctic NOAA has found that Arctic reindeer numbers have declined by over half.

The Arctic Report Card, issued annually since 2006, is a timely and peer-reviewed source for environmental information on the current state of different components of the Arctic environmental system relative to historical records.

The new report found that the abundance of migratory tundra caribou and wild reindeer have continued to drop since declines were detected in the mid-1990s. The numbers fell from around 5 million to around 2.1 million animals in the last two decades.

Five herds in particular, in the Alaska-Canada region, have declined more than 90 per cent and show no sign of recovery.

The rise in temperature was also highlighted, surface air temperatures in the Arctic have continued to warm at twice the rate relative to the rest of the globe. Arctic air temperatures for the past five years (2014-18) have exceeded all previous records since 1900.

The report also stated how plastic pollution is on the rise in the oceans, posing a threat to seabirds and marine life that can ingest debris. Previously, it was reported that 90 per cent of seabirds have plastic in their stomach.

This news follows an international agreement which led to an Arctic fishing ban to ensure a sustainable future for the fishing industry.  

The representatives from governments across the world are currently gathered at COP24 in Katowice, Poland to ensure that the global average temperature rise stays well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Photograph: Alexandre Buisse