Dec 10, 2019

Extreme weather chokes off reindeer food supply in Swedish Arctic

Reindeer in a Swedish corral wait to be released onto winter pastures on Nov. 30. Photo: Malin Moberg/AP

Reindeer in Sweden's Arctic are hungry, the AP reports.

Why it matters: Climate change is altering weather patterns, choking off herds' food supply.

What's happening: The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

  • Unusually early snowfall in autumn was followed by rain that froze, trapping food under a thick layer of ice.
  • "Rain-on-snow" events are having devastating effects: The food is still there, but the reindeer can't reach it.
  • The animals grow weaker, and females sometimes abort their calves.
  • Some retreat to the mountains where predators abound, and the risk of avalanches is great.

Elderly herders recall that they once had bad winters every decade or so.

  • But Niila Inga, whose community herds about 8,000 reindeer year-round, said that "extreme and strange weather are getting more and more normal, it happens several times a year."

Go deeper: Key science report shows "unprecedented" changes to oceans and frozen regions

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A warming Arctic may have global consequences

Children in Newtok, Alaska, Oct. 2019. Thawing permafrost and flooding have forced the community to move to Mertarvik. Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Arctic's thawing permafrost could release an estimated 300 million to 600 million tons of net carbon into the atmosphere each year, according to NOAA's 2019 Arctic Report Card released Tuesday.

Why it matters: Consequences of ongoing changes in the Arctic's climate — accelerated by warming air temperatures and dwindling sea ice — will result in "altered weather patterns, increased greenhouse gas emissions and rising sea levels," the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

Tight supply is driving a rise in Christmas tree prices

Photo: Sarah Blake Morgan/AP

Christmas tree supplies are tight across the U.S., fueling a rise in prices, per AP.

Why it matters: The industry is still bouncing back from the Great Recession, and trying to win people back from a shift toward artificial trees.

Go deeperArrowDec 13, 2019

Surprisingly warm weather forecast for much of the U.S. ahead of the holidays

Temperatures could be 15–20 degrees higher than average in parts of the country ahead of the holidays, while two storms may bring as much as half a foot of rain to the Southeast and a mix of snow and rain to the Pacific Northwest, the Washington Post reports.

What to watch: A storm is brewing and is expected to move through the middle of the country late next week, as many people plan post-Christmas travel, the Post writes. It's too early to know for sure, but the storms could be disruptive to those plans, per the Post

Go deeperArrowDec 21, 2019