Gobs of guano from king penguins in the sub-Antarctic give rise to comical clouds of nitrous oxide—aka laughing gas—according to a recent study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
In their study, Elberling—a professor in the University of Copenhagen's Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management—and colleagues looked at how penguin activity on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia influences greenhouse gas emissions, which include nitrous oxide.
"Nitrous oxide emissions in this case are not enough to impact Earth's overall energy budget," he said.
But "our findings contribute to new knowledge about how penguin colonies affect the environment around them, which is interesting because colonies are generally becoming more and more widespread."
So far, the penguins affects include some much-needed comic relief—something we could certainly use more of.