Melting ice imperils 98% of Emperor penguin colonies by 2100

by Jeremy

WASHINGTON — With climate change threatening the sea ice habitat of Emperor penguins, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday announced a proposal to list the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“The lifecycle of Emperor penguins is tied to having stable sea ice, which they need to breed, to feed, and to molt,” said Stephanie Jenouvrier, a penguin ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Research published Tuesday in the journal Global Change Biology found that by 2100, 98% of Emperor penguin colonies may be pushed to the brink of extinction if no changes are made to current rates of carbon emissions and climate change.

Around 70% of colonies will be in danger sooner, by 2050.

That year, seasonal sea ice broke up before penguin chicks had time to develop waterproof adult feathers, and about 10,000 baby birds drowned, Jenouvrier said. The colony did not recover afterward.

Emperor penguins breed exclusively in Antarctica during winter. They endure temperatures of minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius) and wind speeds approaching 90 miles (144 kilometers) per hour by huddling together in groups of several thousand birds. But they can’t survive without sufficient sea ice.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment