Lying roughly equidistant from the Antarctic peninsula and the tip of South America, South Georgia Island shelters a huge colony of King Penguins. These massive birds are celebrated on 43-pence stamps issued by South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (above). To pack on blubber, King Penguins ingest krill and fish that have dined on nitrogen-rich phytoplankton. Then the penguins excrete kingly amounts of guano. For South Georgia, global warming has increased both glacial retreat and penguin activity. Consequently, there is more open land from which soil microbes can release even greater amounts of nitrous oxide from deposited guano. With the “intense” levels of laughing gas, Danish scientist and permafrost expert Bo Eberling has observed that, “after nosing about in guano for several hours, one goes completely cuckoo.” (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

Lying roughly equidistant from the Antarctic peninsula and the tip of South America, South Georgia Island shelters a huge colony of King Penguins. These massive birds are celebrated on 43-pence stamps issued by South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (above). To pack on blubber, King Penguins ingest krill and fish that have dined on nitrogen-rich phytoplankton. Then the penguins excrete kingly amounts of guano. For South Georgia, global warming has increased both glacial retreat and penguin activity. Consequently, there is more open land from which soil microbes can release even greater amounts of nitrous oxide from deposited guano. With the “intense” levels of laughing gas, Danish scientist and permafrost expert Bo Eberling has observed that, “after nosing about in guano for several hours, one goes completely cuckoo.” (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

Melissa L. Coleman, M.D., Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, and George S. Bause, M.D., M.P.H., Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.