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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
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ScienceShot: Counting Penguins From Space
13 April 2012 4:16 pm
Counting penguins isn't as hard as it might sound. (Hey, hold still!) Someone snaps a photograph of a colony and then marks up the picture to make sure that they aren't missing or double counting anybody. What is hard is getting to remote places, especially Antarctica. So a new approach is to use satellite images, and today researchers report the results of the first such comprehensive study. Scientists have found twice as many emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) as previously thought to exist, roughly 595,000 (plus or minus 81,000). They also came across seven new colonies (one shown at left), bringing the total to 44. To get the new number of birds, they had to enhance the images with a technique called pansharpening, which allowed them to distinguish between shadows, guano, and actual penguins. "This is a leap forward but it doesn't change the conservation concern [about] emperor penguins and many other species," says penguin expert P. Dee Boersma of the University of Washington, Seattle. "Unfortunately with climate warming and variation, we are likely to be studying the decline of emperor penguins. Satellite mapping will allow scientists to determine where the decline are occurring and by how much."
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