Emperor penguins counted from space
Their census technique relies in the first instance on locating individual colonies, which is done by looking for big brown patches of guano (penguin poo) on the white ice.
High resolution imagery is then used to work out the number of birds present.
It is expected that the satellite mapping approach will provide the means to monitor the long-term health of the emperor population.
Climate modelling has suggested their numbers could fall in the decades ahead if warming around Antarctica erodes the sea ice on which the animals nest and launch their forays for seafood.