Emperor penguin chicks died in Antarctica due to the rapid melting of sea ice. New research from the British Antarctic Survey reveals the first breeding failure of emperor penguin colonies, where no chicks survived during a single season.
This event took place between October and December 2022 in the Bellingshausen Sea. Satellite images from the British Antarctic Survey and the European Commission showed that the sea ice at five known breeding sites melted completely before the chicks could develop waterproof feathers.
Emperor penguins rely on stable sea ice connected to the shore for most of the year. However, as of August 2023, during the Antarctic winter when sea ice should be at its largest, it was at a record low.
Scientists are alarmed by the extremely low levels of ice refreezing, which is well outside the normal range. Climate change, changing wind patterns, and the production and burning of fossil fuels releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which heats the planet, are causing the decline of sea ice in the Arctic, scientists said.
This recent discovery about emperor penguins supports earlier predictions that over 90% of the colonies could be almost extinct by 2100, based on current climate change trends and government policies.