Emperor Penguins Are Threatened By Climate Change Crisis

Researchers have reasoned that sea-ice loss and glacial calving have been accelerated do to anthropological climate change. Thus, survival rates for certain species have declined. Species like the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri), that occupy icy territories, have their habitats threatened by changing climatological conditions. A study, conducted by Global Change Biology and the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed that emperor penguins receive extra defense under the Endangered Species Act due to the fact that their environments are undergoing shifts which directly effect their survival.

Global Change Biology Study

The study simulates the effects that extreme climate events has on penguin populations. The evidence for the modeled simulations is derived from observational data captured by satellite records. Emperor penguins live on the Antartica’s coastlines, which are especially sensitive to temperature alterations. Mature emperor penguins rely on sea ice shelves for rest, refuge from aquatic predators and as breeding grounds. Emperor penguins eat krill and other species of fish, such as silverfish, that they find in Antarctica’s waters. Emperor penguins require sufficient amounts of sea ice to raise their young. Declines in sea ice may be the reason that emperor penguins have been disappearing in various regions of Antarctica.

NOAA Climate.gov visual representation of Antarctica

Conclusion of the Study

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, emperor penguin populations were subjected to breakages in sea ice that occurred before young chicks were prepared to swim. This unfortunately caused young emperor penguins to drown in both Halley Bay and Cape Crozier. Research on greenhouse gas emissions suggests that shrinkages in icy environments is expected to increase in the future. Penguin communities will continue to suffer as a result. The close relationship between emperor penguins and their environments is a quintessential example of how species are adversely impacted by a heating planet.

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