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Space Science

Emperor Penguins Counted From Space 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-the-penguins-you-can-eat dept.
HairyNevus writes "An international team of scientists used satellite technology to conduct a census of emperor penguin populations from outer space. Honing in on their colonies by looking for the brown patches of penguin guano that stand out in the snowy antarctic, high resolution images were taken and used to count the total number of emperor penguin species on the continent. The result was a census of 595,000 penguins, almost double the previous estimates of 270,000-350,000 emperors. This includes seven new colonies which had not been previously identified. Although this is uplifting data, computer modeling still shows that loss of ice flows in the northern reaches could result in problems for the penguins."
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Emperor Penguins Counted From Space

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  • Re:Penguin Guano? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @09:18PM (#39690027)

    Guano is probably most often used to refer to bat guano, but sometimes for various birds too.

  • by Psychotria (953670) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @09:39PM (#39690105)

    From the paper [plosone.org]:

    Emperor penguins show
    as single or multiple pixels in the panchromatic band. Where
    penguins are dispersed, individuals can be identified and counted.
    However, in the majority of cases penguins group into close
    clusters and their shadows overlap, meaning that individuals
    cannot be differentiated and a different approach is needed.

    So it's not really as easy as it may first appear.

  • by Cimexus (1355033) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @10:05PM (#39690223)

    There's no such phrase as "honing in" on something.

    That phrase is similar to "intensive purposes", in that it results from a perpetuated mishearing of another phrase. You can "home in" on something - the phrase is "homing in". But to 'hone' means to sharpen (one's blade, one's skills, one's wit etc.)

    I am sure some will find some links that suggest that it's such a common mishearing that it has now become acceptable, but I don't agree. Both the Merriam-Webster (for US English) and the OED (for UK/Commonwealth English) state that "hone in" is an error.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @10:30PM (#39690335)
    Bats, equitorial seabirds, arctic seabirds and many things that crap in one place in large volumes produce guano. It is a word cool and exotic enough to be in a list of ingredients for an energy drink, but it really does just mean deposits of crap that have built up over a long time. In some places it's a valuble resource due to it being a easily obtained source of nitrogen for fertilizer and explosives. In the days of gunpowder it was paticularly valuble and was apparently a major source of income for countries like Chile.

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