BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists find that abrupt climate change and heavy precipitation might have caused young penguins to die off in the Antarctic centuries ago, warning that penguins may face similar disasters under the climate change today.
On Long Peninsula, East Antarctica, scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China identified a widely-distributed area of abandoned penguin breeding grounds where there are numerous mummified penguin carcasses.
Carbon dating revealed that there had been two disasters of collective deaths of penguins in the area around 200 years ago and 750 years ago, respectively.
They analyzed the sediment around the carcasses of the penguins. Based upon the chronological and sedimentary evidence, they propose that the two events were caused by heavy regional precipitation, which led to the abandonment of numerous penguin subcolonies.
The research analyzed the reasons behind penguin disasters throughout history. It also warned that in the context of modern global changes, similar extreme weather events occur frequently, and as precipitation in the Antarctic continues to become more frequent, it could become an increasing threat to penguins.
The research was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.