How pooliferation helps experts keep an eye on things like gentoofication
Using guano to track penguins in the South Pole, scientists say the birds are key to fathoming climate change there
Peering through binoculars from an inflatable motorboat bobbing in frigid waters, polar ecology researchers Michael Wethington and Alex Borowicz scan a rocky outcrop on Antarctica’s Andersson Island for spatterings of red-brown guano that might signal a colony of penguins nearby.
The birds have become far more than an iconic symbol of Earth’s frozen south. Scientists now use them as key indicators for understanding climate change near the South Pole, with certain western regions, among them the Antarctic Peninsula, having undergone rapid warming, while East Antarctica remains cold and capped in ice.
“We are counting penguin nests to understand how many penguins are in a colony, producing chicks every year, and whether that number is going up or down with the environmental conditions,” said Borowicz, of Stony Brook University in New York...