A new study, undertaken in Norway, has concluded that reindeer’s grazing habits help to protect the Earth from absorbing radiation and further warming up the planet.
Doctor Mariska Te Beest, lead author on the study, explained that when reindeer eat the plant life they are constantly reducing the height and abundance of shrubs on the Arctic tundra.
Because of this reduction in surface debris, the level of surface albedo – the amount of solar energy reflected by the earth back into space – is increased.
Meaning that the radiation (or solar energy) is not absorbed into the ground thus contributing to a rise in temperature.
Although the cooling impact of herds of reindeer seems like it would be small overall, Te Beest said that they are large enough to have “consequences for the regional energy balance”.
This could mean that in the future, herbivore management is used as a potential tool to combat global warming.
She said: “Of course the impact the reindeer will have will vary according to the densities and the subsequent effects on the vegetation levels across the whole tundra.”
But it is looking promising.
It was also revealed this week that while they might be doing good, even reindeers aren’t immune from the effects of climate change, causing them to actually get smaller in Norway.
Since 2000, the weight of an adult reindeer in Svalbard has fallen by 12%, according to a study presented at the British Ecological Society (BES).