Emperor penguins are some of the most striking and charismatic animals on Earth, but a new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that a warming climate may render them extinct by the end of this century. The study, which was part of an international collaboration between scientists, published Nov. 7, 2019, in the journal Global Change Biology.
The fate of the penguins is largely tied to the fate of sea ice, which the animals use as a home base for breeding, feeding and molting, she notes. Emperor penguins tend to build their colonies on ice with extremely specific conditions—it must be locked into the shoreline of the Antarctic continent, but close enough to open seawater to give the birds access to food for themselves and their young. As climate warms, however, that sea ice will gradually disappear, robbing the birds of their habitat, food sources, and ability to raise their chicks.
Jenouvrier and her team conducted the study by combining two existing computer models. The first, a global climate model created by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), offered projections of where and when sea ice would form under different climate scenarios. The second, a model of the penguin population itself, calculated how colonies might react to changes in that ice habitat.Read More
Researchers from WHOI, NOAA Fisheries Southwest Science Center, SR3 Sealife, and the Vancouver Aquarium analyzed whale blow samples collected via drone to identify a core group of bacteria in the respiratory tract of healthy whales.Read More
A team gathers skin samples from healthy humpback whales in waters off the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers obtain samples by releasing a biopsy-collecting dart, which bounces off the whales’ skin and into the water. The team then retrieves the floating dart and brings it back to a lab for analysis.Read More
CLIMATE CHANGE COULD spell the end for emperor penguins by the year 2100—that’s the somber prediction of a new international study.
The paper, published Jan. 17, 2019, in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, also highlights the unique connection between juvenile diving behaviors and a layer of the ocean, known as the thermocline, where warmer surface waters meet cooler deep waters below and where their prey likely gather in groups.Read More
features the work of Dan Zitterbart
Just like with humans, the skin on marine mammals serves as an important line of defense against pathogens in their environment. A new study sheds light on the skin microbiome – a group of microorganisms that live on skin – in healthy humpback whales, which could aid in future efforts to monitor their health.Read More
quotes Stephanie Jenouvrier and mentions WHOI
quotes Luke Trusel and mentions WHOI
quotes Kris Karnauskas and mentions WHOI
Scientists studying the harsh and rapidly changing Arctic environment now have a valuable new tool to advance their work—an innovative robot, designed and built at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) that is changing the way scientists can interact with and observe the polar environment.Read More
Polar ecosystems are especially vulnerable to climate change. They are also notably hard to study and to manage. Scientists came to WHOI recently for a Morss Colloquium to address the issues.Read More
At nearly four feet tall, the Emperor penguin is Antarctica’s largest sea bird—and thanks to films like “March of the…Read More