From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Emperor Penguin, Halley Bay
Mains level : Consequences of climate change
- The Antarctic’s second-largest colony of emperor penguins collapsed in 2016, with more than 10,000 chicks lost, and the population has not recovered, according to a new study.
- Still, the population in Halley Bay represents only about 8% of the world’s population of emperor penguins.
Habitat loss leads to breeding failure
- Emperor penguins — the world’s largest — breed and molt on sea ice, chunks of frozen seawater.
- Under the influence of the strongest El Niño in 60 years, September 2015 was a particularly stormy month in the area of Halley Bay, with heavy winds and record-low sea ice.
- The penguins generally stayed there from April until December when their chicks fledged or had grown their feathers, but the storm occurred before the chicks were old enough.
- Those conditions appeared to have led to the loss of about 14,500 to 25,000 eggs or chicks that first year and the colony has not rebounded.
About Emperor Penguin
- The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica.
- Like all penguins it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat.
- Its diet consists primarily of fish, but also includes crustaceans, such as krill, and cephalopods, such as squid.
- The only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter, emperor penguins trek 50–120 km over the ice to breeding colonies which can contain up to several thousand individuals.
- In 2012 the emperor penguin was uplisted from a species of least concern to near threatened by the IUCN.
- Halley Research Station is an internationally important platform for global earth, atmospheric and space weather observation in a climate sensitive zone.
- Built on a floating ice shelf in the Weddell Sea, Halley VI is the world’s first re-locatable research facility.
- This award-winning and innovative research station provides scientists with state-of-the-art laboratories and living accommodation, enabling them to study pressing global problems from climate change and sea-level rise to space weather and the ozone hole – first discovered at Halley in 1985.