A team of scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), led by geographer Peter Fretwell, used satellite imagery of penguin feces taken by ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission to calculate that The habitat of emperor penguins in Antarctica was 20 percent larger than previously thought,media reported.
At about 100 cm (39 inches) tall and weighing up to 45 kilograms (99 pounds), emperor penguins will be considered easy to find in the snowy wilderness off the coast of Antarctica, but it’s not that simple. In addition to being dark for most of the year, Antarctica has the world’s most desolate terrain and weather, and the temperature of the emperor penguins plummets to minus 50 degrees Celsius, making the investigation very difficult. In addition, emperor penguins breed in the darkness of winter.
To overcome this problem, the BAS team turned to Copernicus Sentinel-2 to look for previously undiscovered penguin colonies found in orbit over the past decade. Although emperor penguins are too small to be seen at a resolution of 10 m/pixel, large, brown penguin feces or feces stains are well visible.
As a result, the team found 11 new habitats, bringing the total number of habitats across the Antarctic continent to 61, and the total population of emperor penguins increasing to more than 500,000, or between 265,500 and 2785 pairs of breeding-breeding penguins. Because the breeding grounds are too small, this is only about 5 to 10 percent more than previously estimated.
According to BAS, the addition of penguins is a concern, but because these animals live and breed on the ice, which is prone to melting in the face of warmer climates, it is still a concern. Some of these settlements were found 180 km from the coast of the polar continent.
“While our discovery of these new habitats is good news, these breeding sites are places where recent model projections suggest that emperor penguin populations will decrease,” said Philip Trathan, BAS’s director of conservation biology. “So the penguins in these locations could be ‘canaries in the coal mines’ — we need to look closely at these sites because climate change will affect the region.”
The findings were published in the journal Sensing Remote in Ecology and Conservation.