The majestic Emperor Penguins are in danger and if the climate changes continue their numbers can dramatically decline by the end of the century. Environmentalists are suggesting that the iconic animal deserves an endangered status due to climate change. By the end of this century 2/3 of the Emperor Penguin colonies would have declined by more than half according to the projections made by the researchers.

As a top predator in Antarctica, the main threat to emperor penguins’ survival comes from climate change which is melting the sea ice.

Emperor Penguins are intimately dependent on sea ice for their food and are highly sensitive to small variations in the sea ice concentration. The studies concluded includes analysis of the Emperor Penguin population across the globe and also incorporates current and projected future SIC declines.

The researchers came to the conclusion that there will be a 50% decline in the colonies of Emperor Penguins across the globe. The decline will be further accelerated by climate changes caused by global warming.

“The population is declining. Unless something changes to stop that, the population will go into extinction,” said Hal Caswell, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and one of the authors.

The loss of sea ice is reducing the supply of krill, the tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that populate the Southern Ocean, and are the emperor penguins’ main food source. Young krill feed off of algae living in the sea ice. When the ice goes, so do the krill.

Changes in the ice around Antarctica may – in the short term – boost some of the emperor penguin populations, especially along the Ross Sea, the researchers said. Sea ice off the western coast of Antarctica has been on the increase, because of break-up of glaciers and winds.

But by 2100, all 45 known emperor penguin colonies of Antarctica will be on the decline because of loss of sea ice. Those located on the coasts of the eastern Weddell Sea and the western Indian Ocean will show the sharpest drops. Nine colonies are projected to be “quasi-extinct”, the researchers said.

Stephanie Jenouvrier, a biologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in the US said, “If sea ice declines at the rates projected by the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) climate models, and continues to influence Emperor penguins as it did in the second half of the 20th century in Terre Adelie, at least two-thirds of the colonies are projected to have declined by greater than 50 percent from their current size by 2100. None of the colonies, even the southern-most locations in the Ross Sea, will provide a viable refuge by the end of 21st century.”

The study appeared in the journal Nature Climate Change.

About The Author

Abby is fun loving yet serious professional, born and raised in Sioux Falls, SD. She has a great passion for journalism, her family includes her husband, two kids, two dogs and herself. She has pursued her Mass Communication graduation degree from the Augustana College. She is currently employed at, an online news media company located in Sioux Falls, SD.

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8 Responses

  1. climateguru

    The research has already been shown to be false. There is no danger to penguins. Check the facts before you rant and embarrass yourself.

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  3. Hugh Joseph Curran

    THERE IS A CONSENSUS AMONG SCIENTISTS THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS DUE TO HUMAN ACTIVITIES so this study concerning the future of the Emperor Penguin is not unexpected. There are few climate scientists who disagree that global warming trends over the past century ares due to human activities and the majority of leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Here is a partial list:

    AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES (Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations)”Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.”AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY “Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.”AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION “The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION … supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus…” AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.” AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” The GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA (GSA) concurs with assessments by the NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCE, THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUCIL, The ” INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE ACADEMIES: JOINT STATEMENT”Climate change is real….there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring…U.S. NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES” The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

  4. TheRealAmericanPatriot

    Ally Stackhouse is just another know-nothing POS parroting whatever her liberal bosses tell her to say.

  5. Peter Antonocci

    more lies based on lies.

    Antarctic Sea Ice Growing Despite Global Warming Warnings
    type in antarctic sea ice and within seconds you will sea more than a dozen recent articles on how the ice pack is increasing. this article is just more “repeat a lie often enough and people will start to believe it”.Ally Stackhouse, you are a paid hack and a sham.

  6. ohnooooo

    This is all very sad since emperor penguins are cool. But climate change is both historical and inevitable, and thousands of species have died out over the centuries as a result of it. Adapt or die.

    • Doc Climate

      Climate change isn’t inevitable this time because there is conclusive proof that humans are causing it and this, we can stop it. ago to Skeptical Science website and learn some climate science from climate scientists.

      • Blaqjaq

        Ok, you just go on believing that humans are causing climate change (which I notice you called global warming until it became inconvenient to do so). How in the world did the climate ever manage to change without us over the thousands of years of recorded history? As far as conclusive proof is concerned, you need to stop blindly accepting the proclamations of those with an agenda. There are many respected scientists who believe otherwise, whose voices are silenced by the media which has already made up its mind.

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