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Snowed In

We just weathered two, plus, days of ‘white out’. That’s when there’s so much snow in the air that you can’t see more than a few meters ahead, especially if you’re located where there is snow on the ground. Then everything is white, everywhere you look, except your feet. I’ve never seen it snow so much here at Royds as it has in the past couple of days. In one area of the colony, the penguins became buried completely. The snow piled up around them, and they made little caverns in it. In some places, only a parent’s head or beak stuck up through the snow, with the chick nestled underneath the penguin down below.

A parent pokes its head out of the snow.
Photo by Jean Pennycook.

I must say, though, figuring that the penguins have had enough already dealing with the global climate change that we have foisted upon them, that I had no problem in digging them out. I’m supposed to be an objective scientist, you know. But this snow storm, the thick, wet snow and lots of it, supposedly not characteristic of the ‘dry, desert-like’ continent, is becoming more typical at least of coastal Antarctica. The air is becoming a bit warmer and moister here at the ocean edge, and the snow fall is increasing. And this mostly has to do with US, you and me. In the Antarctic Peninsula area, besides the disappearance of sea ice there, completely, the increased snow is covering the penguins’ (former) nesting areas.

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