Assessment of Climatic Conditions for Siberian Reindeer Herding on the Basis of Heat Balance Modelling




reindeer herding, reindeer population, climate, heat balance, simulation model, Indigenous people, Russian North, Siberia


The purpose of the research is to assess suitable climatic conditions for traditional herding of reindeer by Indigenous people in different areas of Siberia. A сomputer simulation model allowed us to calculate reindeer’s heat balance according to a number of meteorological indices; it was used to assess climatic conditions in 70 localities. To show the impact of climatic conditions on reindeer’s well-being, we introduce the notion of the thermal comfort index (Kt). The best environmental conditions for reindeer are in the areas where Kt takes the highest values in winter and the lowest ones in summer. We showed the results of the reindeer heat balance computer simulation on two maps visualising the average Kt values in summer and in winter. Finally, using official statistics, we calculated the number of reindeer per 100 km2 in areas with different types of traditional reindeer herding. The territories with the largest domesticated reindeer populations per 100 km2 in the two major tundra reindeer breeding areas (Samoed and Chukchi-Koriak types of reindeer herding) are located in the regions with the relatively low value of Kt in summer and high in winter. In the taiga, Kt is relatively high in summer, and reindeer herding (Tungus and Saian types) is developed mostly in highlands, where the summer Kt is lower than in flatlands because of the vertical temperature gradient. The results obtained prove that thermal conditions are extremely important for traditional reindeer herding.