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Satellites Reveal There Are 20% More Emperor Penguin Colonies in Antarctica Than Previously Thought
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Satellites Reveal There Are 20% More Emperor Penguin Colonies in Antarctica Than Previously Thought

A new BAS survey using satellite technology reveals there are 20% more emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica than was previously thought.

Science & Tech

A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are nearly 20% more emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica than was previously thought.

Researchers reported this week how they used images from the European Commission’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite mission to locate the birds.

They found 11 new breeding colonies, three of which were previously identified but never confirmed. That takes the global census to 61 colonies around the continent.

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Emperor penguins need sea ice to breed and are located in areas that are very difficult to study because they are remote and often inaccessible with temperatures as low as -50°C (-58 degrees Fahrenheit).

For the last 10 years, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists have been looking for new colonies by searching for their guano stains on the ice.

“This is an exciting discovery,” says lead author Dr Peter Fretwell, a geographer at BAS. “The new satellite images of Antarctica’s coastline have enabled us to find these new colonies.