Climate change threatening penguins in Antarctica

New York, July 1 (IANS) Continued warming of Antarctica due to climate change could wipe out 60 per cent of Adelie penguin colonies by the end of this century, warns new research.

The climate change impacts will be highly site-specific based on regional climate trends on Antarctica, said Vincent Saba from Northeast Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the US Department of Commerce.

Historic satellite observations and future climate model projections were used to estimate past and future changes in habitat suitability during the penguins’ chick-rearing period.

The researchers found that recent climate warming along the West Antarctic Peninsula corresponded to population declines, while stable or cooling conditions in other parts of the continent corresponded to stable or increasing populations.

The findings were reported online in the journal Scientific Reports.

Saba helped analyse the global climate model output and applied the climate change projections to the penguin presence-absence models.

Adelie penguins were once positively affected by warming and negatively affected by cooling.

Researchers found that further warming is no longer beneficial at some locations on Antarctica, although some cooler regions could serve as a refuge and buffer the effects for a while.

Continued warming is expected to lead to population declines at approximately 30 percent of colonies by 2060 and 60 percent of colonies by 2099, the study said.



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