Thursday, June 30, 2016

Climate Change Could Devastate Penguin Populations by Century's End

[Smithsonian] Polar bears have become the poster child for climate change, but at the opposite end of the globe another beloved animal is facing a major threat from the warming climate: penguins.
By the end of the century, 60 percent of the breeding habitat for Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) could be too warm and too wet to host colonies, according to a new study in the journal Scientific Reports.
The study's lead researcher, Megan Cimino, combined data from 1981 to 2010 on Antarctic sea ice and ocean temperatures with satellite imagery and ground observation of penguin colonies. She was able to piece together how the penguin population has reacted to habitat and climate fluctuations over the last few decades.
Using that data and recent climate change models, Cimino and her colleagues were able to make predictions about future habitat for the Adélie penguins, which inhabit sites all over Antarctica. The news was not great. By 2060, 30 percent of the animal’s colonies will be in jeopardy, and 60 percent will be impacted by 2099. Read More