2-degree rise in temperature may doom penguins
October 10, 2008
More than half Antarctica’s penguin colonies are at risk by a 2-degree global rise in temperatures, according to a report released by the environmental group WWF.
2°C is Too Much cites research showing that 50 percent of the emperor penguins and 75 percent of the Adélie penguins are at risk by a 2-degree increase in temperatures. The report says loss of sea ice will impede penguin nesting and diminish krill populations, an important source of food in the Antarctic food chain.
“Penguins are very well adapted to living in the cold and extreme conditions of Antarctica, so the continued increase in global temperature and resulting loss of feeding areas and nesting zones for their chicks has already led to notable reductions in their populations,” said Juan Casavelos, WWF Antarctica Climate Change Coordinator. “If temperatures increase by another two degrees these icons of the Antarctic will be seriously threatened.”
A group of emperor penguins photographed at Cape Crozier. Photo Credit: Gerald Kooyman, NSF / Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Other penguin species may also be at risk. Research published in February in the journal Science showed that even a small increase in sea surface temperatures in the sub-Antarctic could significantly decrease survival rates among King Penguins — the second largest species of penguin — due to reduced food availability.
David Ainley, Joellen Russell and Stephanie Jenouvrier (2008). “The fate of Antarctic penguins when Earth’s tropospheric temperature reaches 2°C above pre-industrial levels” [pdf, 2.83 MB]‘. WWF
Céline Le Bohec et al (2008). King penguin population threatened by Southern Ocean warming. PNAS for the week of February 11, 2008.