Penguins and Global Warming
Penguins and Global Warming
Even penguins are affected by the climate change that takes place out there. Due to global warming around the
world, their natural environment is affected. Those species that live in the extremely cold regions depend on the
ice because it is what they walk on. When it is melting at fast rates it completely changes their natural
environment. At the same time it can make them vulnerable to predators that they were protected from in the past
due to the thick sheets of ice.
Scientists believe that half of the population of penguins in the Antarctic region has been depleted in the last
50 years due to the climate change. It is the species known as the Emperor Penguins that have seen the largest
losses. This is due to the warming trends continuing for several years. There is plenty of change that takes place
over that span of time, and most of it isn’t positive when it comes to the natural habitat of the penguins.
You also need to remember that these penguins trek over miles and miles of frozen ice to be able to get to
their breeding grounds. When those sheets of ice are melting though this is more of a difficult process. As a
result it can prevent penguins from reaching those breeding grounds in time. Therefore the number of females that
successfully create eggs with offspring in them is reduced as well.
Emperor Penguin Chicks in Antarctica.
Image courtesy of Matthieu Weber.
It may surprise you that some penguins have to worry about sunburn. They live in warmer climates where it is
possible for them to become too hot. Some of them need to cover their feet with their flippers while on land to
prevent them from being sunburned. Others have to continually attempt to cool their bodies due to the excessive
heat. The young are very vulnerable too because they are born with no feathers or very few of them so the rays from
the sun can easily penetrate to their skin.
These penguins in the warmer areas may spend more of their time in the water to be able to cool off. This can
make them more likely to be eaten by predators though because they are in the water for extended lengths of time.
They also use plenty of energy to swim around so they will then have to hunt for more food in the water to maintain
While there is research to indicate many species of penguins are making changes so they can adapt to the climate
change, it doesn’t mean we should allow it to continue. They are doing what they must in order to survive. Yet
these changes can easily upset their natural balance of things. As a result there is an increased risk of adults
dying as well as their offspring not making it to maturity. In some species of penguins, such stressful changes
result in them not participating in reproduction at all.
What the future holds for the penguins out there depends on our efforts. Too many people don’t see global
warming and climate change as something they need to be concerned about. However, with the education about such
issues it is hopeful that more people will take a firm stand to make changes for themselves and for future
We all need to be aware of global warming concerns and how they affect the world around us. The penguins are
just one more element in our world that is adversely affected by it. That is why we all need to take responsibility
for what we contribute to our environment. By taking steps individually to reduce global warming, we can create a
collective effort that is going to make a difference.Climate Change Likely to Devastate Emperor Penguin
Populations in Antarctica. Survival of species could be threatened.
Climate Change Likely to Devastate Emperor
Penguin Populations in Antarctica
This is an episode from Science Nation, NSF's online magazine that's all about science for the people.
Credit: National Science Foundation