Emperor Penguins at the Risk of Extinction Due to Climate Change: Report

Climate change is found to be a primary threat towards the penguins and their habitat.

Climate Change
2 min read
Hindi Female

Emperor penguins have recently been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Climate change has been found to be the primary threat towards the penguins. While the species population is currently stable, in thirty years, their population could be reduced by 47% in a worst case scenario.


Low Emissions Scenario Will Still Cause 26% Decline in Population

Emperor penguins occupy a sea-ice habitat crucial for their survival. They require the sea-ice to form breeding grounds and forage for food.

The emperor penguin population is currently stable, however, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has found that a significant portion of the population will be under threat of extinction in the foreseeable future.

Due to rising carbon emissions, the global temperature will also continue to increase causing the ice to melt, threatening the penguin habitat.

There are 61 colonies along the cost of Antarctica, and the species' population size has been estimated to be between 270,000 - 280,000 breeding pairs or 625,000 - 650,000 individual birds.

However, by 2050, their population size is expected to reduce by 26% even under a low carbon emissions scenario and to 47% in a high carbon emissions scenario.

This decrease in population size will not be not equal across Antarctica, where some colonies may maintain a stable population.

However, emperor penguin colonies within the Indian Ocean, Western Pacific Ocean; and Bellingshausen Sea and Amundsen Sea sectors are expected decline of by approximately 90%.

“Climate change is having a profound impact on species around the world and addressing it is a priority for the Administration. The listing of the emperor penguin serves as an alarm bell but also a call to action.”
Martha Williams, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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