Climate change will destroy many penguin colonies: WWF report

October 13th, 2008 - 5:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 13 (IANS) A rise of more than two degrees Celsius in global temperatures will be enough to wipe out many penguin colonies.A new World Wildlife Fund report - 2°C is Too Much - shows that the colonies of 50 percent of the iconic emperor penguins and 75 percent of the Adélie penguins are already under threat.

Climate change models forecast that a two degrees Celsius temperature rise above pre-industrial level could be a reality in less than 40 years, producing a strong reduction in the sea ice cover of the Southern Ocean which is an essential nesting and feeding ground for Emperor and Adélie penguins.

A reduction in the sea ice is also likely to have a knock-on effect on the abundance of krill, which is a vital food source for penguins.

Juan Casavelos, WWF Antarctica Climate Change Coordinator said: “Penguins are very well adapted to living in the cold and extreme conditions of Antarctica, so the continued increase in global temperature and resulting loss of feeding areas and nesting zones for their chicks has already led to notable reductions in their populations.

“If temperatures increase by another two degrees these icons of the Antarctic will be seriously threatened.”

A rise in global average temperatures of 2°C is widely regarded as a threshold level for unacceptable risks of dangerous climate change. Many recent climate models forecast likely temperatures rises in excess of this, according to a relase of WWF.

The only way to significantly reduce the risks of climate change in Antarctica, as well as globally, is to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

WWF is calling for all nations to work together to agree on a new global deal that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol and tackle climate change beyond 2012.

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