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For Traditional Reindeer Herders, “This New Snow Has No Name” – Mother Jones
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For Traditional Reindeer Herders, “This New Snow Has No Name” – Mother Jones

For Traditional Reindeer Herders, “This New Snow Has No Name” – Mother Jones


Reindeer in a corral at Rakten in Sweden, waiting to be taken to winter pastures.Malin Moberg/AP

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This story was first published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The SamiThe only indigenous people remaining in EuropeMore than 100 words can be used to describe snow. From seaŋáš, a fluffy, grainy and light-moving snow, is a good choice. tjaevi, flakes that stick together, are hard to dig, their names are based on their texture, depth, density and the harsh Arctic winter conditions.

But the Sami of Sápmi, who are traditionally fishers, trappers, and reindeer herders, do not yet have a word for what they are seeing more often on the ground.

“This new snow has no name,” said Lars-Anders Kuhmunen, a reindeer herder from Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost town, near the Norwegian border. “I don’t know what it is. It’s like early tjaevi, which usually occurs in March. The winters are now warmer and there is more rain, making it icy. The snow on top is very bad snow and the reindeer can’t dig for their food.”

According to a report by a, the Arctic is warming faster than the rest. Paper published in Science Last week. Sápmi, an area that stretches over parts of four countries—Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia—and is hemmed by three seas, recorded its The hottest temperature in more than 100 yearsJuly saw temperatures of 33.6 C (92.5 F), in the midst of a summer heatwave.

Kuhmunen and other Reindeer Herders spend their days and nights tending to the herds scattered across large tundras. They are at the forefront for the climate crisis. They say that their semi-domestic reindeer, which has adapted well to the harsh conditions in the polar region are being pushed to their limits by the climate changes. The animals use their shovel-like hooves for digging for lichen, which is their main winter food supply. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find food.


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