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Climate Change Killing Young Argentine Penguins February 7, 2014
Magellanic penguins nesting in Argentina's Punta Tombo peninsula.
Magellanic penguins nest on Argentina's Punta Tombo peninsula between September and February.
Penguin chicks in Argentina’s coastal Patagonia are being killed by chilling rains that climate change is bringing to the historically arid region, along with spells of unprecedented heat.

A new study published in the journal Plos One shows that chicks being born on the Punta Tombo peninsula are vulnerable to hypothermia when they grow too big for their parents to keep them warm by sitting on them, and have yet to grow their waterproof feathers.

Increasing rainstorms are drenching them to death.

This has been the leading cause of chick deaths on the peninsula during two recent years.

“Climate variability in the form of increased rainfall and temperature extremes, however, has increased in the last 50 years and kills many chicks in some years,” the authors write.

Beyond shifts in weather, the researchers point to altered fish behavior from climate change as an increasing cause of penguin deaths as well.

Photo: Nora Smith