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A tipping point

December 18, 2019

Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are the largest species of penguin and one of the most charismatic animals on Earth. Their lifecycle is dependent on sea ice for breeding, feeding and molting. Emperors build their colonies on ice during extremely specific conditions–locked into the Antarctic shoreline, but close enough to open seawater to feed. As climate warms and sea ice gradually disappears, the birds will lose their only home. A study led by WHOI scientists estimates that if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, the emperors will be marching to extinction by the end of this century. (Photo by Stephanie Jenouvrier, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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