Researchers who have spent nearly 30 years studying a major penguin colony on the coast of Argentina say climate change is taking a real toll on the animals, reports LiveScience. In their study published in PLoS One, the researchers say wetter storms that are particularly deadly for young chicks are becoming more frequent. The chicks die from hypothermia because they haven't yet grown a waterproof coat, explains NBC News. The researchers also cited hotter temperatures.
“Rainfall is killing a lot of penguins, and so is heat,” the lead author of the study from the University of Washington tells the New York Times. “And those are two new causes.” The Times says the study is significant because it's "one of the first to show a direct impact of climate change on seabirds." The researchers say it's a safe assumption that other species in the region are suffering a similar fate, and they worry about climate models showing that the extreme weather isn't going away. "We're going to see years where almost no chicks survive if climate change makes storms bigger and more frequent during vulnerable times of the breeding season as climatologists predict," says the study's co-author.