Climate change: Thousands of penguins die in Antarctic ice breakup

A devastating event in late 2022 resulted in the death of up to 10,000 emperor penguin chicks in the Antarctic. The chicks were unable to develop their waterproof feathers before the sea-ice beneath them melted, causing them to drown or freeze to death. The die-off is a concerning sign of what is to come, as more than 90% of emperor penguin colonies are predicted to become extinct by the end of the century due to decreasing seasonal sea-ice caused by climate change. However, there is hope if carbon emissions are reduced. Satellites were used to track the colonies and observe the penguins’ activity. The decline in Antarctic sea-ice is linked to warm ocean water and a specific wind pattern. This rapid change is unexpected and unprecedented. Currently classified as “Near Threatened,” there are suggestions to reclassify emperor penguins as “Vulnerable” due to the threat of climate change.

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