The researchers highlighted that the period experienced exceptionally heavy snowfall brought on by snowstorms brought on by climate change, which made it challenging for the birds to reproduce.
According to Sebastien Descamps, the study’s first author and a researcher at the Norwegian Arctic Institute, when a storm hits, seabird colonies lose some chicks and eggs and have decreased breeding success. But, considering the sheer number of birds involved—tens of thousands, if not more—none of them bred during the storms. Being completely unsuccessful at breeding is unexpected.
Zero skua nests were discovered on Svarthamaren, a crucial area for breeding and rearing young for both petrels and the south polar skua, according to a study that was published in the journal Current Biology. Only three Antarctic petrel nests were active in this area in January, according to the researchers.
While 38 to 68 polar skua nests were active from 2011 to 2020, the study found that 20,000 to 200,000 Antarctic petrel nests were active on Svarthamaren from 1985 to 2020.
…………………………… in………….. Likewise, after discovering more than ten such nests active here in 2016 and in 2018, the researchers discovered zero active skua nests at Jutulsessen.
This severe weather had an effect on more than just one isolated colony. Descamps indicated that the colonies in question were dispersed over a great distance. Therefore a sizable portion of the land was affected by these stormy circumstances, which had an effect on the breeding success of a sizable portion of the Antarctic petrel population.
The study’s Antarctic seabirds lay their eggs on bare ground, but a lot of snow prevents them from doing so. Also, with more intense snowstorms, seabirds must expend more energy keeping warm rather than mating and rearing young. According to the study, breeding south polar skuas’ prey, Antarctic petrel eggs and chicks had declined, which may have contributed to the absence of any active skua nests.
The average wind speed in Antarctica is rising, and strong wind occurrences are occurring more frequently. The study came to the conclusion that according to IPCC model forecasts, Antarctica’s temperature will probably rise, which will result in more snowfall—the majority of which falls during episodic storms.
These forecasts are unsettling given the damaging effects that snowstorms have on Antarctic seabird breeding. Significant Antarctic seabird populations are already in decline, and increased storm activity may cause them to go extinct.