Caribou carcasses, lots of them, lay scattered throughout the tundra of Prince Charles Island, just north of the Arctic Circle in Nunavut. And at both Prince Charles Island and St. Matthew Island, time ran out for the herds.
Meteorological information from Prince Charles Island in the winter season of 2015– 2016 show that significant storms happened in April 2016, a time when caribou energy reserves are typically at their least expensive. Researchers reanalyzing meteorological data discovered that the winter season of 1963– 1964 was one of the harshest ever tape-recorded in the Bering Sea islands. As at Prince Charles Island, the hard crust on the snowpack made it tough, if not impossible, for the substantial reindeer herd to gain access to important nutrients.
Using a combination of from another location picked up data from satellites and sensing units on the ground, researchers discovered the unmistakable fingerprints of the same killer in 2016 and 1966. Both Arctic islands are shown on this page as observed in 2015 and 2016 by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8.
While caribou and reindeer are the exact same types (Rangifer tarandus), they are not the exact same animal. Reindeer occupy Europe and Asia and have adjusted to domestication.
One key quality caribou and reindeer share is that they are herbivores that feed upon lichens and plants. In late fall and early spring, they utilize their sharp hooves to break through the icy crust on northern lands to reach this food source. While the animals are adjusted to efficiently managing their energy reserves over the long Arctic winter, timing is whatever. And at both Prince Charles Island and St. Matthew Island, time ran out for the herds.
June 22, 2016.
Meteorological data from Prince Charles Island in the winter season of 2015– 2016 indicate that significant storms happened in April 2016, a time when caribou energy reserves are generally at their least expensive. Wind and snow from these storms developed an unusually dense snowpack, which was spotted through brightness temperature data gotten by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMI/S) aboard the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) series of satellites. Scientists determined from the information that the caribou, currently compromised at the end of a long winter, starved to death when they were unable to break through the thick snow and ice layer to reach the food they needed.
Uncommonly severe winter weather also was the culprit on St. Matthew Island. Scientists reanalyzing meteorological information discovered that the winter season of 1963– 1964 was one of the harshest ever tape-recorded in the Bering Sea islands. As at Prince Charles Island, the hard crust on the snowpack made it hard, if not difficult, for the substantial reindeer herd to gain access to crucial nutrients.
Through making use of remotely sensed data, scientists had the ability to close the cold case of the strange deaths of caribou in Canada and reindeer in the Bering Sea islands taking place a half-century apart. The information informed the tale.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Josh Blumenfeld, NASA ESDS Program.
June 17, 2015
Through using from another location picked up data, researchers were able to understand the strange deaths of caribou in Canada and reindeer in the Bering Sea islands.
A study group on a remote island in Arctic Canada came across a grisly sight in the summertime of 2016. Caribou carcasses, dozens of them, lay scattered across the tundra of Prince Charles Island, simply north of the Arctic Circle in Nunavut.
A half-century previously and more than 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) west, a similar scene faced biologists on a remote speck of land in the Bering Sea. Forty-two reindeer were discovered foraging among the skeletal remains of a reindeer herd on St. Matthew Island that just 3 years earlier had actually numbered 6,000 animals.