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Changes in Heard Island glaciers, king penguins and fur seals since 1947

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Budd, GM (2000) Changes in Heard Island glaciers, king penguins and fur seals since 1947. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 133 (2). pp. 47-60. ISSN 0080-4703

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is ro summarise and discuss the changes in glaciers, king penguins and fur seals reported by the nine wintering parties and 11 summer expeditions that have visited Heard Island since 1947, with emphasis upon those of the years between 1947 and 1971. These early years were notable for an initial period (1947-55) of minimal change, and a subsequent period (1963-71) of rapid change in which a complex pattern of asynchronous glacier retreat and readvance was observed and the main features of the island's recolonisation by king penguins and fur seals were established. Subsequent expeditions (1980-93) have reported continuing glacier recession, evidently in response to warmer air temperatures, and a continuing exponential increase in king penguins and fur seals. The glacier observarions show that the Heard Island glaciers are sensitive indicators of climate change in the Southern Ocean, and of the interactions between climate and glacier topography. The island's recolonisation by king penguins and fur seals is attributed mainly to an improved food supply which may itself, like the glacier recession, be a response to changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Glacier recession and its consequences are changing the island's coastline, and the expanding populations of king penguins and fur seals are damaging the vegetation. All these phenomena, occurring as they do in an island with a hitherto undamaged ecosystem and no introduced predators, clearly warrant continuing study.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, RST, Van Diemens Land, natural history, science, ecology, taxonomy, botany, zoology, geology, geography, papers & proceedings, Australia, UTAS Library
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 47-60
ISSN: 0080-4703
Additional Information: Copyright Royal Society of Tasmania
Date Deposited: 22 May 2012 01:36
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:33
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/13600
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