Penguins Climate change:
70% of king penguins could ‘abruptly relocate or disappear’ by 2100
The Antarctic penguin that is being affected by global climate change is the Adélie penguin. Unlike the Emperor penguin, the Adélie does not raise its chicks on sea ice. Instead, it builds a nest out of pebbles on the sparse areas of the Antarctic shoreline that are free of ice and snow.
On the western Antarctic Peninsula, warmer temperatures allow the air to hold more moisture, and this leads to more snowfall in the region. Adélie penguin populations are disappearing rapidly because they cannot find snow-free ground for nesting. The loss of winter sea ice in this region is also impacting the Adélie’s food supply negatively.
As sea ice declines, the more ice-intolerant Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins are expanding southward into Adélie breeding areas in the Antarctic Peninsula, replacing Adélie penguins.
Both Emperor and Adélie penguins face a bleak future from global climate change. According to a study by Antarctic researchers, a temperature increase of 1.3°C will jeopardize 40% of the world’s Emperor penguins and 70% of the world’s Adélie penguins—largely because of diminishing sea ice. (At present rates, the world will exceed 1.3°C of warming before mid-century.) Penguin scientists also predict that sea-ice loss due to global climate change will push the Emperor population chronicled in March of the Penguins to the brink of extinction within this century.12