Climate change melts away sea ice, along with penguin's chances of survival

A recent study has shown that the beloved Emperor penguin could reach near extinction by the end of the century

Emperor penguins are known for their unique characteristics and lovable personalities, but sadly, a new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that climate change may push the birds to near extinction by the end of the 21st century.
 
The study was published November 7 in the journal Global Change Biology. Biologist and lead author on the paper, Stephanie Jenourvrier, has stated that “If global climate keeps warming at the current rate, we expect emperor penguins in Antarctica to experience an 86 percent decline by the year 2100.”
 
Stephanie Jenouvrier and a penguin friend during research in Antarctica (photo courtesy of WHOI) 
 
 According to WHOI, emperor penguins thrive best in their natural environment, sea ice close to the water where they can hunt for food. However, with climate warming, the sea ice will melt and disappear over time, leaving less habitat for the penguins and also reducing their food source.
 
Research for this study was undertaken by combining two computer models. One model dealt with projections of the formation of sea ice in correlation with climate change, and the other model calculated how the penguin population would react to changes in their frozen habitat.
 
According to Jenourvrier, she and the scientists at WHOI have been developing the penguin model for a decade. She notes, "It can give a very detailed account of how sea ice affects the life cycle of emperor penguins, their reproduction, and their mortality. When we feed the results of the NCAR climate model into it, we can start to see how different global temperature targets may affect the emperor penguin population as a whole.”
 
Based on a scenario calculations run by WHOI, if Earth warms by 2 degrees Celcius, the amount of sea ice could be dramatically affected, reducing by as much as 15%. A third of the number of penguin colonies could disappear alongside this devastating loss of ice.
 
Other scenarios were run by the group, including one where Earth warms to the tune of 5 - 6 degrees Celcius. Needless to say, this kind of climate change would be absolutely disastrous, not just to the penguins but to all of life in general. The terrifying aspect of this is that as long as we take no action to reduce this climate change, these scenarios are entirely possible.
 
To read the full news release by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, click here