Canberra, Sept. 24 -- The world's largest penguin species is facing extinction within the next 30 years, Australian researchers have warned.

Barbara Wienecke, a senior research scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), revealed that projected studies suggest the iconic emperor penguin could be virtually extinct by 2050.

Endemic to Antarctica, the emperor penguin is the largest of the 18 penguin species, growing up to 1.3 meters tall.

Raising their young on fast-ice, the ice that is locked between islands or icebergs, has made emperor penguins particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with colonies already disappearing.

"At the current rate, extinction is virtually a given," she was quoted by the News C...