All penguins live south of the equator, but only two species are the true Antarctic penguins requiring waters that are covered with ice most of the year. The small Adélie Penguin (10 pounds) and the large Emperor Penguin (50 pounds) are being affected by changes in the Earth’s climate patterns.
Adélies are quick, strong walkers and climbers, and build their nests on land out of small rocks. They lay 2 eggs. Just as song birds need trees to live in, Adélie Penguins need ice. They spend most of their lives at sea or on ice floes such as this one.
The Emperor Penguin is large, slow and clumsy. Emperors raise chicks on flat frozen ocean, rarely come on shore and nestle the one large egg in a pouch just above their feet.
Adélie Penguins are at home on ice with plenty of open areas between the floes. They live on top of the ice, their food is underneath the ice and in the surrounding ocean.
When there is too much solid ice, the penguins have to walk a long way to their breeding colony and then return to open water for food. This may take several days each way and many nests will fail.
Adélie Penguins are good swimmers, but do not like to live in open ocean with no ice floes to rest on. When sea ice disappears, Adélies disappear.
A small breeding group within a large colony. Adélie Penguins build their nests in groups to help protect the eggs and chicks from the Skuas.
Global climate change is affecting the penguins habitat in these ways: 1.Summer storms are becoming more severe. 2.Sea ice coverage is changing. 3.Summer melt from glaciers alters the breeding colony.
1. Summer storms are becoming more severe. With warming temperatures, more moisture enters the atmosphere creating larger storms with more snow.
Summer storms bringing a few inches of snow are common during the breeding season. Adélie chicks are tough and can withstand these storms.
With global climate change, storms are bringing more snow. The adult penguins will not leave their nests, even when the snow piles up. If the snow is too heavy, the adults and their chicks become buried.
This breeding group returned to the colony to find a four foot snow drift covering their nesting sites. Adélie Penguins need open ground free of snow and do not know how to deal with this much. The pairs built their nest on the drift, but their warm bodies melted the snow causing the eggs to sit in cold water. Very few eggs hatched in this group.
2. Sea ice coverage is changing. In some Antarctic locations, sea ice coverage is becoming reduced or disappearing, in others it is increasing and lasting longer. With global climate change there are winners and losers.
As ice cover in some areas of Antarctica is reduced, Adélie Penguin colonies are becoming smaller or disappearing. Antarctic Peninsula
An abandon nesting colony. These penguins had to move to another location in Antarctica where the sea ice conditions were more favorable.
In other Antarctic locations greater winds and cooler temperatures increase the ice suitability for the Adélie Penguins. These colonies are growing in numbers. Ross Island
Location of the “March of the Penguins” Emperor Penguin colony.
Emperor chicks can not swim until they obtain their full adult plumage. These birds are on several inches of ice over several hundred feet of water. If the sea ice melts before the chicks can swim, they will not survive.
3. Summer melt from glaciers alters the breeding colony..
The eggs on these nests will not hatch as they are sitting in very cold water.
With warming temperatures glaciers retreat and more land opens up for nesting sites. The penguin colony on this island is increasing. Beaufort Island
Global climate change is altering the habitat of Antarctic penguins. For more information go to: www.penguinscience.com
Other Powerpoint presentations for you classroom: Introduction to the Polar regions, Why is Antarctica so cold? Introduction to Adélie Penguins, Adélie Penguins march into the classroom Penguin Adaptations, This is a harsh continent Adélie Penguin Behavior, Good manners are always in style Penguin Predation and Competition, Life is tough for an Adélie Penguin Adélie Penguins Cope with Global Climate Change Did You Know, How researchers know what they know Penguin Quandaries, Can you answer these mysteries Fun pictures about Adélie Penguin Go to www.penguinscience.com The education page.