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Snow maps from space aid reindeer herders

Scandinavia : Arctic reindeer herders in northern Scandinavia are getting a view from space to help them look after their herds as the region copes with climate change. Using satellite-based snow melt maps supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA) backed program Polar View, herders are able to view the depth of snow and judge where the best foraging spots are to take their reindeer.

Under the Polar View initiative, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) have been providing snow melt maps for Norway and Sweden, as well as snow cover maps for Eurasia, for the last 18 months.

The ICR partnered with Polar View in a trial of the maps to examine how satellite observations could help by gathering information on snow change in a timely manner for such vast circumpolar regions.

In addition to climate change, reindeer herders also have to face a loss of pastures because of infrastructure development, such as roads, hydroelectric power dams and cabin resorts.

The same technology would help the ICR to monitor the different forms of land-use change over time.