What has the climate done to the plants on Svalbard?

By Rebecca // Wednesday 19 Sep // 09:50:16 // No Comments

So I’ve now seen my first reindeer up close and personal!!! We were hiking on one of the mountain slopes when we came across a reindeer. It was grazing on vegetation…not really bothered by our presence. These animals are not migratory and not really social animals, therefore you will hardly ever see them in groups. So far, we’ve seen two reindeer and they were both alone.

We found out yesterday that dwarf birch is now being found on Svalbard. A species, which normally grows at or near the treeline in the Arctic. Its presence on Svalbard would generally indicate that the climate has warmed enough to have a change in plant species composition in this part of the Arctic. I cannot imagine what this area will be like 15 years from now. Will we see trees? If so, how will this affect the herbivory patterns of the reindeer?

We spent the day looking at zooplankton under the microscope to see whether there are any changes in the zooplankton communities in a site far from a glacier (more saline) vs a site closest to a glacier (less saline due to an input of fresh water in the ocean). We are still on the hunt for results!

Read more as the das pass…we only have one more full day in Ny Alesund before we sail back to Longyearbyen.

So far, it has been an adventure of a lifetime…

Tags: Rebecca Zalatan