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Drip, drip of global warming spells change in northern Russia

A herder tends to his herd of reindeer in Kanchalan, Chukotka region, 12 July 2007. Questions are being asked about global warming across northern Russia. While there are fears for wildlife, there is growing optimism about the Arctic maritime passage that runs across the top of Russia from the Bering Straits to the north Atlantic.(AFP/File/Natalia Kolesnikova)

KANCHALAN, Russia (AFP) - It is summer in this reindeer-herding village in northern Russia and with not an iceberg in sight, residents are acquiring a taste for bathing in the local river.

"We used to have ice on the river all year round. The warming process is speeding up," said the worried head of the state-controlled reindeer company at Kanchalan, Arkady Makhushkin.

"The reindeers' health is suffering. Their meat isn't so tasty," he said, explaining that the animals had to be herded greater distances to find cooler grazing grounds in upland areas.

As he tries to work out the effects of rising temperatures on his 32,000 reindeer, questions are being asked about global warming across northern Russia, from Chukotka region in the east, where Kanchalan is located, to Murmansk in the west.

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