Climate change isn't just shifting how the world feels, it's changing how it sounds

A group of king penguins
A group of king penguins walk along a snow-covered path at Asahiyama Zoo on January 18, 2010 in Asahikawa, Japan.
Junko Kimura | Getty Images

When winds whip through Antarctica’s king penguin colonies, the birds must alter their calls so their mates returning from sea can hear them over the gusts. And as climate change fuels more extreme weather, they’re having to do it a lot more often.

“It’s already precarious to survive in the wild,” said science writer Emily Anthes. “If you have to put a lot more energy into producing sounds that can be heard, that could be costly from a survival perspective.”

Anthes wrote in the New York Times about how climate change is changing our natural soundscapes. She highlighted research that shows shifting habitats and biology are affecting mating calls and sounds that animals use to navigate.

It’s also changing how humans experience nature. For example, as bird migration patterns change, certain bird songs that have signaled the start of spring could come earlier or altogether disappear in some areas.

Anthes spoke with MPR chief meteorologist and Climate Cast host Paul Huttner. Hear their conversation, including some of the animal sounds from her article, by hitting play on the audio player above.

Thierry Lengagne provided the king penguin recording, Peter Narins provided the cocqui frog audio, and Tullio Rossi provided the snapping shrimp audio.

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