Are penguins prepared for climate change? Chilean scientists travel south to study Antarctic glaciers

By Mohsin Abbas / The Santiago Times

SANTIAGO – A commission of scientists from several countries has traveled south of the Antarctic Circle in a naval vessel to study migrations and the reproductive cycle of penguins and the effects of climate change on these birds.

For 20 days, the ship – “Oscar Viel” – sailed in the middle of icebergs in the framework of 53rd scientific expedition of the Chilean Antarctic Institute. The navy provided logistical support to INACH national scientists, as well as researchers from Brazil, China, the Netherlands, the United States and Spain, specifically in the sectors of Paraíso Bay, Yelcho Base and Lystaad Bay.

The crew of scientists carried out studies on the thickness changes in the glaciers of Yelcho Base and Fildes Bay. They also sampled the Antarctic ecosystems (macroalgae and molluscs).

The studies will determine if penguins are prepared for climate change.

Juliana Vianna, researcher at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, said she and her team of Brazilian researchers “want to know if, from a genetic point of view, these species (Penguins) are prepared to deal with climate change or not. Of course, there are other factors, such as ecological factors or the availability of food (eg krill) that can influence the fate of a given population.”

“Oscar Viel” has a modern Hydrographic Room, which is very important in the work carried out by scientists from all over the world on the white continent and supported by the Chilean Navy.

The commander of the ship, Captain Pablo Sepúlveda, said it is a pride for the Navy to support this type of scientific missions from different countries. “With this we increase our presence and sovereignty in Antarctica,” the commander added.

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