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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From the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum on Facebook:
Quarantine has caused everyone to go a little stir-crazy, even the residents of the Kansas City Zoo. So several of the penguins decided to go on a field trip to the Nelson-Atkins, which is still closed, to get a little culture.
This isn't the only group of zoo penguins to enjoy an extra-special social excursion while the rest of us are quarantined. But they're certainly the first penguins to prefer the work of Caravaggio to Monet.
The Kansas City Zoo also has a penguin cam so you can keep on eye on your favorite tuxedo'd friend when they're not enjoying an afternoon of high culture. Read the rest
With no visitors coming into Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, some of the rockhopper penguins have been given free reign to roam and explore. While Wellington seems really into the Amazon fish tank, Edward and Annie have been using the opportunity to bond together more in anticipation of mating season, according to the Shedd's Facebook page.
Whatever they choose to do with their time, I say: fly free, my tuxedo'd comrades.
Penguins openly explore Chicago aquarium closed due to Covid-19 [The Guardian] Read the rest
This video is apparently from January of 2019, but I saw it on Twitter the other day, accompanying the news about the record-breaking ice melt in Antarctica over the holidays.
Did you hear about that? How the ice in Antarctica is melting at alarming rates, because of climate change, which is real? There aren't a lot of humans in Antarctica to witness the gradual encroach of our ecological apocalypse, but it's happening.
Anyway, the penguin video. It's a thriller. That chunk of ice cracks off — again, because of rising global temperatures — and poor little penguin dude is stuck there is it floats away, while her other penguin friends are safe on the other side. I don't think I've watched anything this intense since the last time I saw the end of Toy Story 3. I held my breath for damn near a minute, hoping that lil' tuxedo'd waddler would be okay. If we're not gonna freak out about climate change, we should at least be worried about our poor penguin friends!
But also, climate change is terrifying, and this penguin is a portent for the future that all of us are headed for. Read the rest
“Can’t I stay with you?” Read the rest
Penguins huddle in frigid temperatures, but rather than stay in one place, timelapse footage shows that when one occasionally takes a step, others follow suit, creating a low-moving wave and allowing those on outer edges to move in over time. Read the rest
When you drop this flat-pack penguin on the floor, it "explodes" into a 3D penguin, like a Nintendo character come to life.
[via Dooby Brain] Read the rest
Photographer, technologist, and Boing Boing reader Christopher Michel shot this wonderful image in Antarctica, and very kindly shared it in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, which you can also do with any awesome images you shoot. Read the rest
Remember, climate change isn't intentionally trying to make your life miserable. It's just a trend in rising global average temperatures. That comes along with lots of side effects, some of which do, in fact, make human life pretty miserable. In other cases, though, the effect can be beneficial. For instance: In Antarctica, climate change seems to be increasing the population of adorable Adelie penguins. Read the rest
There's a whole gallery of these eerie, psychedelic penguins at Wired, part of Nadia Drake's article about new research based on infrared thermal imaging. Strangely, researchers found that the exterior surface of the penguins was actually colder than the surrounding air. This, despite the fact that penguins maintain a fairly stable interior body temperature that's far warmer.
The researchers involved in the study think that discrepancy might be caused by an extreme form of radiative cooling. Basically, everything emits heat in the form of radiation. You, me, the Earth, penguins — we're all constantly losing heat as it radiates away from our surfaces. During the day, we get heat back from the Sun. At night, while there is some heat coming to us from space, it's much less. And on clear, windless nights — when there isn't a cloud clover to bounce our own heat back at us — we get even colder. As Drake points out, this theory doesn't totally work for the penguins. They were photographed on a pretty windy night. But it certainly produced some great images. Here's a link to the original paper, which you can read for free. Read the rest
[Video Link.] Yahoo's "Sideshow" blog has the story behind this video, and an accompanying photo gallery slideshow. On a recent Delta Flight, there were 300 or so human passengers and two foot-and-a-half tall penguins, Pete and Penny, who are 6 and 12 years old respectively. They were on their way to the New York premiere of "Frozen Planet," a new Discovery Channel documentary series narrated by Alec Baldwin. Like the narrator, the penguins fly first class. I hope they behaved better on the plane than he has been known to.
[photo: SeaWorld penguins Pete and Penny on display at the "Frozen Planet" premiere at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on March 8, 2012 in New York City. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images] Read the rest
Patrick and Joyce from Canadian photo collective stillmotion filmed this vibrant montage of sea creatures at the Georgia Aquarium. (Video link) Read the rest