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Studying penguins in a changing environment - from up close and smelly to the comfort of your armchair. Tom Hart and Fiona Jones work in Antarctica, the highest, driest continent on earth with absolutely no traffic wardens. Their work involves trying to disentangle the different threats to penguins, which is far more than just climate change. Tonight, learn about the science underpinning how we understand changing populations in an extreme environment with what it is like to live and work in Antarctica.
The challenges of conserving penguins in the Southern Ocean
The Southern Ocean is a rapidly changing environment facing multiple threats, such as fishing and sea ice change. These threats overlap in space and time and are often influenced by each other. Despite modern technology and 100 years of study, we don’t have a good enough understanding of population trends and threats to penguins. We use time-lapse cameras to monitor what is happening to the timing of breeding and reproductive success. We now face a huge data challenge, which we are overcoming with machine learning and Penguin Watch – a citizen science project that you can participate in!
Life in the field – how to live with penguins without smelling too bad
Antarctic science has traditionally involved building a scientific base to solve the logistical challenges of working in a remote setting. However, in order to monitor penguins all around the Southern Ocean, we have had to turn to alternative methods…namely hitchhiking on ships, and camping. We describe the sorts of challenges we face when living amongst the penguins, such as “what shall we have for dinner?”, “how do we go to the toilet in a blizzard?”, and “what do we do when the Nutella is frozen?” We hope this will be an informative talk with lots of base toilet humour.