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Penguins feel the heat of climate change

ANTARCTICA'S penguin population has slumped because of global warming as melting ice has destroyed nesting sites and reduced their sources of food. The Antarctic peninsula was warming five times faster than the average in the rest of the world, affecting four penguin species. "Now it seems these icons of the Antarctic will have to face an extremely tough battle to adapt to the UNPRECEDENTED rate of climate change." A report says sea ice covers 40 per cent less area than it did 26 years ago off the West Antarctic Peninsula, leading to a fall in stocks of krill, the main source of food for the chinstrap and gentoo penguins. On the northwestern coast of the Antarctic peninsula, where warming had been fastest, populations of adelie penguins had dropped 65 per cent over the past 25 years. Warmer temperatures and stronger winds mean the penguins had to raise their chicks on increasingly thinner sea ice which tends to break off early while many eggs and chicks have been blown away before they were able to survive on their own.

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