At the end of 2022, over 9,000 Emperor penguin chicks were killed due to the breaking of ice in the Antarctic. Usually, in late May or early June, Emperor penguins begin to lay eggs; then, from August to November, the eggs begin to hatch. However, the chicks must stay on the ice until December to January because their feathers haven’t begun to fledge. Fledgling is the process of gaining waterproof feathers to be able to swim; without them the chicks will either freeze or drown. Therefore, because large amounts of ice broke up in 2022 before many chicks fledged, thousands perished and only around 800 chicks survived. Due to rising temperatures, some areas in the Antarctic can increase to up to 3℃ or 37℉. Antarctica itself has lost over 3 trillion tons of ice, further exacerbating the problem of rising sea levels.
While the Emperor penguin colonies can recover from one failed breeding season, if this continuously occurs, this could lead to the Emperor penguin population to decrease rapidly. Currently, the Emperor penguins face imminent extinction by the end of this century and are presently listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, though many scientists are urging for the classification to be moved up to “vulnerable”. Many scientists theorize that 98% of all Emperor penguins will be extinct by 2100 if temperatures continue to rise alongside the substantial shrinkage of ice.
However, if we are able to reverse the trend of global warming and the breakage of ice, the Emperor penguin population will be able to revitalize, but as every day goes by, the possibility of stopping the extinction of the Emperor penguin population grows dimmer and dimmer.
How can you help?
Through signing petitions, donating, adopting a penguin, or raising awareness about how climate change is directly affecting the livelihoods of Emperor penguins, everyone can do something to help the fight against climate change.
Extra steps you can take:
Joining Kids Fight Climate Change: If you want to make climate change news and information more accessible, you should consider joining us! Check out this link: Join the Team | Kids Fight Climate Change: Youth Climate Education. There are more opportunities than just writing, including designing, editing, speaking, and publishing.
Volunteering at advocacy groups: VolunteerMatch is a great resource to find volunteer opportunities, virtual and in-person. Check out this link: VolunteerMatch
If neither of those options applies to you, there are still ways to raise awareness! Simply by sharing articles such as this one, you are doing your part to spread important climate information. That is activism
“Center for Science Education.” 2023. Warming in Antarctica | Center for Science Education. Accessed August 29. https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/climate-change-impacts/warming-antarctica.
Amos, Jonathan. 2023. “Climate Change: Thousands of Penguins Die in Antarctic Ice Breakup.” BBC News. BBC. August 24. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-66492767.
Bisset, Victoria. 2023. “Thousands of Penguin Chicks Killed by Early Sea Ice Breakup, Study Says.” The Washington Post. WP Company. August 26. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/08/25/emperor-penguin-chicks-population-death-antarctic/.
Zambrano, Luis Melecio. 2023. “Emperor Penguins Lost Thousands of Chicks to Melting Ice Last Year.” Science News. August 28. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/antarctica-emperor-penguins-endangered-climate.