Coping with a Warming Winter Climate in Arctic Russia: Patterns of Extreme Weather Affecting Nenets Reindeer Nomadism

Bruce Forbes, Timo Kumpula, Nina Messhtyb, Roza Laptander, Marc Macias-Fauria, Pentti Zetterberg, Mariana Verdonen, Anna Skarin, Kim Kwang-Yul, Linette N. Boisvert, Julienne C. Stroeve, Annett Bartsch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Assessing potential drivers of and linkages between sea ice retreat or thinning across Arctic Russia and maintenance of the ancient and unique social-ecological systems of the Indigenous reindeer-herding Nenets is a pressing task. Sea ice loss is accelerating in the Barents and Kara Seas in the northwestern region of Arctic Russia. Warming summer air temperatures in recent decades have been linked to more frequent and sustained summer high-pressure systems over West Siberia but not to sea ice retreat. At the same time, autumn/winter rain-on-snow events across the region have become more frequent and intense. Two major rain-on-snow events during November 2006 and 2013 led to massive winter reindeer mortality episodes on Yamal Peninsula, where tundra nomadism remains a vitally important livelihood activity for the indigenous Nenets.

Here we review evidence for autumn atmospheric warming and precipitation increases over Arctic coastal lands in proximity to Barents and Kara sea ice loss. Realizing mutual coexistence of tundra nomadism within the Arctic’s largest natural gas complex under a warming climate will require ready access to and careful interpretation of real-time meteorological and sea-ice data and modelling, as well as meaningful consultation with local communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResilience through Knowledge Co-Production
Subtitle of host publicationIndigenous Knowledge, Science, and Global Environmental Change
EditorsMarie Roué, Douglas Nakashima, Igor Krupnik
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108974349
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoEC publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


  • Yamal Peninsula
  • Barents and Kara seas
  • West Siberia
  • Rangifer tarandus
  • climate change
  • Rain on snow
  • tundra Nenets

Field of science

  • Geosciences
  • Other agricultural sciences


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