penguins are the new canaries down the coalmine

by frog

according to this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Some of climate’s best canaries are turning out to be penguins. Down the mine, an upturned songbird in a cage was the first warning of a deadly gas seep. Above ground, an age of fossil fuels later, there are different silences.

In the sub-Antarctic, king penguins fledge fewer chicks if the parents must forage in warming seas. Rising waters are swamping limited nesting space for African penguins in Namibia. And because climate change’s legacy varies capriciously, little penguins in Bass Strait seem to do better when the water temperature is up.

But it’s on the the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula that the signal is clearest. The raucous cacophony of Adelie penguins has disappeared from the landscape as colonies collapse.

Adelie Penguin chick, head portrait in snow, Brown Bluff, Antarctica

“On top of a single high rock I see an unbearably poignant tableau,” recounts the science writer Meredith Hooper, as she witnesses the demise of a colony.

“One fluffy chick is standing, very still, on its pebble nest, with one adult. A skua stands next to them. Waiting. Death openly in attendance.”

frog says

Published in Environment & Resource Management by frog on Tue, September 25th, 2007   


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