Extreme Temperature Diary-April 26, 2019/ Topic: Emperor Penguins…Another Species Threatened By Climate Change

Friday April 26th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Emperor Penguins…Another Species Threatened By Climate Change

As time has rolled along through the early 21st century I am seeing more disturbing news of wildlife either being threatened by climate change or absolutely devastated. In the Arctic and Antarctic I was under the impression that, except for the polar bear, most wildlife could adapt as ice slowly disappears. Apparently and Unfortunately, not so. Today’s main topic is on the plight of the emperor penguin, which has not been adapting to Antarctica sea ice loss. I saw this article from The Scientist posted from Dr. Heidi Cullen’s Twitter feed:

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/antarctic-emperor-penguin-colony-faces-collapse-65798

Quoting and reposting from The Scientist:

Antarctic Emperor Penguin Colony Faces Collapse

After three years with very few new chicks, the birds are abandoning one of the biggest breeding sites on the continent, satellite images show.

Apr 25, 2019
By: Jef Akst

An emperor penguin population in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea that used to be tens of thousands of birds strong is on the brink of collapse, according to a study published today (April 25) in Antarctic Science. Satellite images of the area show that, while the colony consisted of up to 25,000 animals prior to 2016, in the last three years those numbers have dropped to almost zero.

“We’ve never seen a breeding failure on a scale like this in 60 years,” study author Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology at the British Antarctic Survey, tells the Associated Press. “It’s unusual to have a complete breeding failure in such a big colony.”

“Since we know little about the population trends of emperor penguins in most colonies, this is not good news,” Dee Boersma, a penguin ecologist at the University of Washington in Seattle who was not involved in the research, tells Science.

The decline of the so-called Halley Bay colony stems in large part from the loss of large numbers of emperor penguin chicks, which drowned in 2016 after the sea ice they’d been living on was destroyed in a storm. “The sea-ice that’s formed since 2016 hasn’t been as strong,” study author Peter Fretwell of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge tells the BBC.

The lack of reproduction since the catastrophe is “unprecedented,” Fretwell and Tranthan report. Many of the colony’s adults have made the 55-kilometer trek to an adjacent colony, whose numbers have grown 10-fold as it has received the migrants.

The loss of the Halley Bay colony is concerning, as researchers didn’t expect such dramatic sea ice declines to occur in this area of the Antarctic. “I thought the Weddell Sea would be one of the last places we would see this,” Tranthan tells Science. “The fact that these penguins are still vulnerable is a surprise.”

We will need to keep tabs on other penguin colonies as the years continue to go by just like with Polar Bears and other species with what has become a rapidly shrinking planetary cryosphere. Homo Sapiens, probably one of the most adaptable species on the planet, may be able to thwart climate change in the long run. Let’s pay very close attention to the plight of species that can’t evolve fast enough to avoid the threat of extinction. If the planet gets too warm even the top of the food chain may be threatened just like emperor penguins in the present day Waddell Sea.

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Here is some more weather and climate news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

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Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”

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