Warming climate changing Iceland wildlife, land: researchers
Environmental scientists in Iceland say the changing climate is having a big impact on that country's wildlife and is eroding land on the Arctic island.
Iceland has seen record-breaking warm temperatures in recent years, which has affected some bird and fish species, said Gudrun Palmadottir, an environmental researcher working in west Iceland.
"We have seen it in many species of birds and fish and algae and plants. There are new species, and the species that are here are struggling, like the puffin and the Arctic tern," she told CBC News.
"There is something missing from their food chain," she added. "It's being studied, but [there] was a dramatic death in chicks this year and past years also with the puffin, and it's thought to be because the sea is warming."
Palmadottir said some cold-water fish species have moved out of their traditional fishing grounds. That's a big concern to the country's fishery, she added.
As well, Icelanders are dealing with severe erosion caused by centuries of grazing and forest clear-cutting.
"About 40 per cent of Iceland is suffering from severe erosion … that means about 40,000 square kilometres," said Magnus Johannsson of Iceland's Soil Conservation Service.
Johannsson said that on top of the clear-cutting and grazing, warm and dry summers in the past couple of years have led to dry, loose volcanic soil blowing over vegetated areas.
The Icelandic scientists spoke to a group of 28 youth earlier this month as part of the Cape Farewell 2008 climate change expedition.
The expedition group, which includes youth from Canada, Mexico, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and Brazil, has been travelling since Sept. 7 to Iceland, Greenland and Baffin Island. Their journey wraps up Sept. 20.