Nathan Moyer enjoys being lost in code, but would rather spend time trying to outsmart his husband & attempting to outrun his greyhound.
Counting Penguins From Space
Not only has the population of emperor penguins in Antartica nearly doubled since 1992, but this finding was also made possible via satellite imagery. New technology in satellite imagery called “pansharpening” has allowed scientists to use a focusing technique to actually count the population of penguins from space.
Tracking these four foot tall penguins is difficult due to their remote habitats found only in Antarctica. The last time an emperor penguin census was conducted was in 1992, and at that time the population was close to 300,000. With the new satellite census, tracking the population has become more accurate, allowing the scientists to also find 7 more (new) colonies of them.
Unfortunately, even though the populations have doubled, scientists are still concerned about the colonies near the northern edges of Antarctica. With rising temperatures & melting ice comes the loss of habitat for the penguins that thrive on the coasts. The colonies found in the more centralized areas of Antarctica are far more safe than the coastal colonies. That is, they are safe until more cracks and breaks like “the little piggy” begin to fragment the continent even more.
However, there is hope that with pansharpening, scientists will be able to track populations. “For example, ‘if we saw a population crash in one location, we could see if it’s unique to that location’ and whether the crash is related to climate change.”
Read more at National Geographic.