2 New Papers Find Stable To Growing Penguin Populations In The ‘Global Warming’ Era

‘Marked And Steady Increase’

In Modern Penguin Abundance

Perhaps because of their unique visual appeal and heavy representation in children’s books and movies (and climate blogs), penguins may subjectively rank second only to polar bears in their polar popularity.

The Polar Bear As ‘Global Warming’ Icon

Advocates of climate alarm have historically used images of forlorn and starving polar bears stranded on melting ice floes to spur human guilt and policy action.  In 2008, polar bears were even classified as endangered due to modeled expectations of their imminent demise.

According to recently published peer-reviewed scientific papers, however, polar bears have been defying the narrative that says dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW) is targeting them for extinction.

That’s because in recent decades 92% of Canadian polar bear subpopulations have remained stable or increased, leading scientists to conclude that “it seems unlikely that polar bears (as a species) are at risk from anthropogenic global warming” (York et al., 2016).  Local Inuit populations even report that there are “too many polar bears now” (Wong et al., 2017).

How About Penguins?

Since the Arctic’s polar bears have not been cooperating with the DAGW narrative (by failing to die off in greater numbers), perhaps penguins, another beloved polar species, could take their place.  After all, the plight of Antarctica’s penguins has not received nearly as much worldwide attention or sympathy.

But scientists have found that penguins have not been cooperating with DAGW expectations either.

In recent decades, and over the course of the last 200 years, penguin numbers have either increased or remained stable.

Penguin Population Dynamics And Climate

Scientists have historically determined that increasing Adélie penguin numbers seem to coincide with warm periods, whereas cooling periods elicit population declines (Emslie et al., 2007Huang et al., 2009).

According to Yang et al. (2018), however, increases in penguin abundance coincide with cooling periods.  They note that there were higher Adélie penguin numbers in the Ross Sea region during the Little Ice Age (1600s to early 1800s) than during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Interestingly, though, these scientists also found that there has been no net change in penguin population since the 1800s, a determination that would not appear to fit the perspective that modern climate changes are unprecedented or even unusual.

Furthermore, when it’s considered that there has been no significant regional temperature change between the 1880s and mid-2000s, and that the Ross Sea has undergone a dramatic cooling trend (-1.59°C per decade) since 1979 (Sinclair et al., 2012), any decreasing population trend in recent decades would necessarily coincide with a cooling rather than warming climate.

In another paper published in the journal Nature Communications a few months ago, Che-Castaldo et al. (2017) analyzed 267 Adélie penguin colonies residing on the Antarctic continent and found their numbers have undergone a “marked and steady increase between 1982 and 2015.

Reindeer, Perhaps?

With both polar bears and penguins perpetually failing to support the narrative invoking deep concern about the species-depleting effects of anthropogenic global warming, perhaps a new animal icon foreshadowing the dangers of climate change will emerge at some point.

Reindeer are polar animals that are seasonally quite popular.   Perhaps they could take the place of polar bears and penguins.

Or not.

Bårdsen et al., 2017     The Pursuit of Population Collapses: Long-Term Dynamics of Semi-Domestic Reindeer in Sweden  We investigated the population dynamics of Swedish semi-domestic reindeer from 1945 to 2012 at the reindeer herding district-level (Sameby) to identify possible population collapses or declines […] but found no evidence of large-scale reindeer population declines and no visible synchrony across adjacent populations. Our findings were unexpected as both reindeer populations and the pastoral lifestyle face increased habitat loss, predation, fragmentation and climate change.

Pan-Antarctic analysis aggregating spatial

estimates of Adélie penguin abundance…

Che-Castaldo et al., 2017

[A]ggregated abundance [for 267 Adélie penguin colonies] across all sites in this region showed extended periods of both increasing and decreasing abundance over the last three decades [1982-2015].

We also find a long-term decline in abundance in the South Orkney Islands, following an initial period of increase in the early 1980s. In contrast, we found a marked and steady increase in abundance around the rest of the Antarctic continent, including both Eastern Antarctica and the Ross Sea.

Commensurate with other studies [Lynch et al., 2013], we find that the population of Adélie penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula declined between 2000 and 2008, though we found an unexpected rebound in abundance starting in 2008. This regional increase in abundance may, in part, be driven by sites in the Marguerite Bay area, where Adélie penguins are stable or even increasing. However, this increase may also reflect a cessation of regional warming on the Antarctic Peninsula since the late 1990s [Turner et al., 2016], which may benefit ice-dependent species like the Adélie penguin.

We find that while Eastern Antarctica appears to have been increasing steadily in abundance since at least 1982, the increasing abundance of Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea is more recent, beginning in 2002.


Oceanographic mechanisms and penguin population increases

during the Little Ice Age … southern Ross Sea, Antarctica

Yang et al., 2018

Adélie penguin populations as inferred from […] southern Cape Bird declined slightly from ∼1450 to ∼1600 AD, began to rise afterward and reached their highest level in ∼1700 AD, then declined with fluctuations to the lowest levels through ∼1900 AD. For the past 100 yr, Adélie penguin populations experienced a sharp rise and drop.

Monitoring data have shown that Adélie penguins at Cape Bird had an increasing trend in the 1970s, likely linked with changes in sea-ice extent and polynya size, but also with variation in competition with minke whales (Ainley et al., 2005; Wilson et al., 2001). Our study suggests that the penguin populations increased in the 1960s as well, consistent with their research.

Over the past 500 yr at Cape Bird, Adélie penguin populations increased during the cold period (∼1600–1825 AD), which is inconsistent with the general pattern in other studies, for example, penguin populations increased when climate became warmer, and vice versa (Emslie et al., 2007; Huang et al., 2009; Sun et al., 2000).

9 responses to “2 New Papers Find Stable To Growing Penguin Populations In The ‘Global Warming’ Era”

  1. Michael Jones

    It’s surely only a matter of time before somebody says it:

    “There are more penguins because…er… reduced predation from polar bears, which are going extinct”

    (Hint: there is a flaw in that argument!).

    1. AndyG55

      Darn, you beat me to it !.

      I was going to say that the extra food would help increase the polar bear population.

      Oh well 🙁

  2. Don from Oz

    The Flaw Michael? How do the Polar Bears manage to come across the Penguins? Poles apart!

    1. AndyG55

      Yes Don, we are both well aware of that 🙂


  3. tom0mason

    I suppose the reduction in hunting the penguins and rendering them down on the Falkland Isl. helped them recover. The downside was having to find replacements for all the valuable oil and fat they provided, thankfully people found that oil existed underground and could be put to good use.

    Millions were killed for their oil late in the 19th century. Eight penguins were estimated to make one gallon (4.5 litres) of oil. In 1867 it was reported that four vessels engaged in the ‘penguin and seal fishery’ in the Falklands made 50,700 gallons of penguin oil which implys the destruction of half a million birds in one season.

    Penguin eggs have been taken for food since men reached the Falklands. In 1833 Edmund Fanning took on board his ship ‘a goodly number of geese and 56 barrels of his favourite penguin eggs’. In 1871 a colony of rockhoppers at Sparrow Cove near Stanley yielded 25,000 eggs, but none breed there today.

    When cooked, the white of a penguin egg looks like a semi transparent jelly and the yolk is bright orange. They have a distinctive fishy taste. Eggs were preserved in large quantities and made a welcome change to the Falkland Islanders’ routine diet of mutton (referred to as ‘365’ as it was commonly eaten every day of the year).

    Since 1999, it has been illegal to collect the eggs of rockhopper penguins. However, the traditional and limited harvesting of gentoo penguin eggs continues under a controlled licence system operated by the Falkland Islands Government.

    From http://www.falklandsconservation.com/wildlife/penguins/history

    “The oils and other products derived from the sealing and whaling trades were in such high demand in Europe, America and colonial settlements that they became one of the most lucrative and high risk trades of the 19th century, especially in the southern colonies of Australia and New Zealand. In the first 30 years of European settlement in Australia, large shipping companies from England and America were quick to purchase ships and crews out of Sydney to take advantage of the rich sealing and whaling opportunities of the Southern Ocean.” and the useful Macquarie Island.
    “In 1891 the Tasmanian government issued a ban on seal harvesting on Macquarie Island, but due to its remoteness it was almost impossible to reinforce. Before long the seal population began to shrink once more, and the entrepreneurial eye turned to the potential of the islands millions of penguins as a source of oil.”

    Penguin oil production, according to this source, lasted on the island until 1920.


    1. AndyG55

      Thank goodness for FOSSIL FUELS, especially oil

      It SAVED THE Whales, Saved the Penguins and seals

      And COAL of course, not only SAVED the forests and the trees, but provided for the existence and development of ALL modern societies.

      1. yonason (from my cell phone)

        And THAT, AndyG55, is why the suicidal anti-social activists hate coal and oil.

  4. Graeme No.3

    The Warmists selected the wrong animal again. The correct choice is the Antarctic Invisible Marmoset, which no one saw from 1760-1960. No one has seen it since, but by selective adjustment of the numbers of original sightings it can be claimed to have become extinct because of global warming.

  5. Steve

    Just as an aside,I reckon the Polar Bear is the most awesome creature on the planet.

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