Scientists have discovered a new emperor penguin colony in Antarctica using satellite mapping technology from the sky.
This colony has approximately 500 birds, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said in a press release. Its discovery means that there are now 66 known emperor penguin colonies around the coastline of Antarctica. BAS said half of all those colonies were discovered by satellite imagery.
A team form the BAS studied images from the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission and then compared them with high-resolution images from the Maxar WorldView-3 satellite.
Scientists have been searching satellite images for evidence of penguin colonies for 15 years. It has not been an easy job as the emperor penguins breed in icy areas where temperatures are as low as −60 C.
“This is an exciting discovery,” said scientist Peter Fretwell of the British Antarctic Survey, who led the research. “The new satellite images of Antarctica’s coastline have enabled us to find many new colonies.
“And whilst this is good news, like many of the recently discovered sites, this colony is small and in a region badly affected by recent sea ice loss.”
Emperor penguins are known to be vulnerable to loss of sea ice, which is where they breed. The researchers suggest that under current warming trends, 80 per cent of colonies will be “quasi-extinct by the end of the century.”
Reporting for this story was paid for through The Afghan Journalists in Residence Project funded by Meta.