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In two recent studies, scientists have looked into the future and into the past to see what might happen to the global climate if we fail to curb greenhouse gas emissions in time. The results are frightening.

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France's subantarctic Île aux Cochons was once home to half a million breeding pairs of king penguins. Now, only 60,000 remain. Liam Quinn / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The world's largest colony of king penguins declined nearly 90 percent in the last three decades, researchers announced Monday.

The colony inhabits France's subantarctic Île aux Cochons or Pig Island. Observations from the 1980s showed that it was once home to 2 million king penguins, making it the planet's largest colony of the species, and also the second largest colony of all penguins.

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Weddell seals live around Antarctica and nearby islands. changehali / CC BY 2.0

The five companies responsible for 85 percent of krill fishing in Antarctica announced Monday that they would put a "voluntarily permanent stop" to fishing in vulnerable areas earmarked by conservationists for the world's largest ocean sanctuary, the Guardian reported.

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Icebergs calving from an ice shelf in West Antarctica. NASA / GSFC / Jefferson Beck / CC BY-SA 2.0

After last week's disturbing news that ice melt in Antarctica has tripled in the last five years, another study published Thursday offers some surprising good news for the South Pole and its vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

The study, published in Science by an international research team, found that the bedrock below the WAIS is rising, a process known as "uplift," at record rates as melting ice removes weight, potentially stabilizing the ice sheet that scientists feared would be lost to climate change.

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The tongue of Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier, which is melting at an accelerated pace. NASA ICE / James Yungel / CC BY 2.0

Ice melt in Antarctica has tripled in the last five years, according to the most comprehensive assessment of the state of South Pole ice to date, published in Nature Wednesday.

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Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

Another day, another sign of the reach of the global ocean plastics crisis. A Greenpeace expedition to Antarctica turned up microplastics in more than half of ocean water samples taken in the world's southernmost waters. It also found chemicals dangerous to wildlife in a majority of snow samples, Greenpeace reported Wednesday.

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More than 120 pregnant female minke whales were killed this year in the Antarctic Ocean as part of Japan's controversial "scientific whaling" program.

The numbers were revealed in a newly released report presented earlier this month at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Scientific Committee meeting in Bled, Slovenia.

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Weddell seals. U.S. Geological Survey

Scientists studying the warming waters and salinity of the Southern Ocean's Amundsen Sea—which surrounds the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers, two of the largest and fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica—are using a novel method to collect data.

They temporarily glued sensors onto the fur of Antarctic seals. Really.

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Penguin colony, St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia. size4riggerboots / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Following a £10 million ($13.5 million) eradication scheme and nearly a decade of work, South Georgia was officially declared rodent-free on Tuesday, the first time since humans arrived on the island more than 200 years ago.

The British territory is one of the world's last great wildlife areas. There you'll find 98 percent of the world's Antarctic fur seals, half the world's elephant seals and four species of penguins—including King Penguins with around 450,000 breeding pairs. The birdlife includes albatrosses, prions, skua, terns, sheathbills and petrels.

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By Michael Svoboda

Typically one of the coldest months of the year, February seems a good time to present a selection of books that explore how climate change is affecting the coldest regions of the world. Eleven of the 13 titles presented below were (re)published between 2000 and 2017; two are slated for release later this month. The last four are collections of photographs by internationally recognized photographers James Balog and Sebastian Copeland.

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A seal entangled in plastic netting on Bird Island. Claire Waluda

Not only have microplastic particles infiltrated the pristine Antarctic, the problem is much worse than anyone thought.

Scientists from the University of Hull and the British Antarctic Survey have determined that the levels of microplastics are five times higher than previous estimates. The results were published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

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