Record low 2022 Antarctic sea ice led to catastrophic breeding failure of emperor penguins
The spring season of 2022 saw record low sea ice extent in Antarctica that persisted throughout the year. At the beginning of December, the Antarctic sea ice extent was tracking with the all-time low set in 2021. The greatest regional negative anomaly of this low extent was in the central and eastern Bellingshausen Sea region, west of the Antarctic Peninsula where, during November, some regions experienced a 100% loss in sea ice concentration. We provide evidence of a regional breeding failure of emperor penguin colonies due to sea ice loss using Sentinel2 satellite imagery. Of the five breeding sites in the region all but one experienced total breeding failure after sea ice break-up before the start of the fledging period of the 2022 breeding season. This is the first recorded incident of a widespread breeding failure of emperor penguins that is clearly linked with large-scale contractions in sea ice extent.
Authors: Fretwell, Peter T. ORCID record for Peter T. Fretwell, Boutet, Aude, Ratcliffe, Norman ORCID record for Norman Ratcliffe