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Images: From Penguins to Polar Bears

WHOI biologist Stephanie Jenouvrier, seen here holding a young Emperor penguin, invited biologists, climate scientists, conservationists, and policy experts to a Morss Colloquium in May to discuss issues related to management of polar ecosystems. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jenouvrier)
Jenouvrier led a team of researchers that recently found the Emperor penguin, the world's largest species of penguin, to be "fully deserving of endangered status due to climate change." (Photo by Peter Kimball, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Polar regions are showing greater effects from climate change than any other regions on Earth. One of the biggest impacts is the reduction in sea ice—thinner ice is covering a smaller area for a shorter time each year. The loss of ice threatens organisms whose lifestyles depend on it, ranging from algae at the bottom of the food chain to polar bears at the top. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Algae grow on the underside of sea ice. As ice cover shrinks, so does the crop of algae, which affects all the animals that depend on algae for their sustenance. One of those is krill, the small red crustaceans that are favorite prey of many penguins and whales. Here, evidence of a krill-heavy diet is obvious around the nests of a Gentoo penguin colony. (Photo by Melissa Patrician, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Chinstrap penguins also rely heavily on krill. These chinstraps are panting to cool off on a relatively warm Antarctic day. (Photo by Michael Polito, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
An Adélie parent feeds its chicks. WHOI scientist Scott Doney studies a population of Adélie penguins that has declined precipitously in recent years. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
In some parts of Antarctica, sea ice is actually increasing, due to complex air-sea-ice interactions. While some colonies of Adélie penguins have crashed, others are thriving. Whether the healthy populations are big enough to sustain the whole species is not known, said WHOI biologist Stephanie Jenouvrier. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The volume of sea ice in the Arctic has declined sharply in recent decades, as shown in this display. April, which is at the end of the Arctic winter, is still the month with the greatest volume of sea ice, but the total has declined by almost half since 1979. The volume of sea ice in January (midwinter) has dropped by more than half. And in September, at the end of summer, almost no sea ice remains. This graph, sometimes called the "Arctic death spiral," is based on monthly measurements of sea ice from January 1979 to June 2014.

(Original illustration © Andy Lee Robinson, modified by Jack Cook, WHOI)
In addition to supporting algal growth, sea ice also provides resting places for polar bears, which range far from shore in their search for seals. With less ice, the bears may not be able to find enough prey or may not have a place to eat their dinner after they catch it. (Photo by Carolina Nobre, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Forced to swim longer distances in search of food, polar bears may not survive. They are supremely adapted to life in an icy sea and a rich diet of seal meat and do not do well if confined to land. (Photo by Mary Carman, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
At the Morss Colloquium, WHOI biologist Hal Caswell spoke about the difficulty of predicting the exact timing and extent of events such as catastrophic loss of sea ice or the crash of a polar bear population. However, he said, uncertainty about specifics does not mean the overall conclusion is wrong—although it is sometimes portrayed that way in the political realm. (Photo by Jayne Doucette, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Caswell told the audience at the Morss Colloquium about attempts to predict the fate of a population of polar bears along the north coast of Alaska. Ten different models of sea ice extent and bear numbers predict different results for the next few decades, but all show that by the year 2100, sea ice in the area will have declined so much that the polar bear population there, which now stands at 1,500, will not survive. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Photographer and WHOI research associate Chris Linder said he uses photos to tell the stories of polar scientists and to raise awareness of the effects of climate change. An art exhibit held in conjunction with the Morss Colloquium featured several of the images he has captured on 38 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica.

(Photo by Benjamin Linhoff, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
"Insouciance," a watercolor painting by Aurélie Le Brun du Puytison, was part of the art exhibit held in conjunction with this year's Morss Colloquium. Inspired by photographs her sister, Stephanie Jenouvrier, captured during research expeditions, de Puytison created a series of paintings of animals including polar bears, wandering albatrosses, Emperor penguins, and Weddell seals in fading, atmospheric depictions of endangered polar landscapes. (Painting © Aurélie Le Brun du Puytison)
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