Emperor penguin population could decline by 2100

emperor penguins

If climate change continues to affect sea ice concentrations in the Antarctic, then the emperor penguin population could be in full decline by 2100.

Stephanie Jenouvrier/WHOI

Emperor penguins’ reign over Antarctic sea ice could be in decline by the beginning of the 22nd century.

Having just the right amount of sea ice is essential for the penguins’ survival, but a warmer climate could lead to less sea ice. Scientists modeled population trends for the 45 known emperor penguin colonies, factoring in changes in sea ice from climate data. The projections show that all colonies will be smaller and that 20 percent will probably be quasi-extinct by 2100.

The results, published June 29 in Nature Climate Change, could have implications for classifying the penguins, and possibly other organisms, as endangered species. 

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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