The poop of King Penguins releases high levels of nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas. An international team of researchers from China, Denmark, and the UK were studying how the retreat of glaciers and penguins activity impact soil greenhouse gases on South Georgia, an island north of Antarctica. They observed that the penguin guano is rich in nitrogen that, when it interacts with bacteria in the soil, is converted into nitrous oxide. From CNN:
"It is truly intense," said Bo Elberling, an author of the study. He noted it's not an insignificant amount, either — the emissions measure about 100 times more than a recently fertilized Danish field. There was enough emitted nitrous, in fact, that one researcher went "completely cuckoo," while "nosing about in guano for several hours," Elberling said…
"The small nitrous oxide cylinders that you see lying in and floating around Copenhagen are no match for this heavy dose, which results from a combination of nitrous oxide with hydrogen sulphide and other gases," he added, referring to the containers designed for whipped cream but often used as a recreational drug.
"Combined effects of glacial retreat and penguin activity on soil greenhouse gas fluxes on South Georgia, sub-Antarctica" (Science of the Total Environment)
image: transformation of original photo by Andrew Shiva (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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