A recent phenomenon, known as the pink snow has occurred in the Arctic and even if it appears to be quite interesting and beautiful, it is, in fact, a reason for concern.
Scientists have discovered that the watermelon color of the snow comes from algae living under the snow. This type of red algae led to a massive ice melting around those areas.
Experts have not found a leading cause of this algal bloom yet, but they suspect that it might be related to climate change. Sudden weather changes have led to an imbalance in the world’s ecosystem. This imbalance manifests differently depending on the environment.
For example, the ocean ecosystem suffers from the worst coral bleaching ever recorded in history, and blue-green algae have already affected many water regions and lakes as well. Furthermore, wildfires have taken their toll on many forests, whereas bees, monarchs, and other pollinators have suffered a massive decline over the last few years.
The red algae are usually found in cold environments, such as Greenland, Iceland, Alps, and Antarctica. The red algal bloom increases the melting process up to 13 percent by changing the color of the glacier surface. Glaciers keep the earth surface cool by reflecting the sunlight. They have a unique feature, known as the albedo effect which helps them reflect the sunlight easier.
As the red algae blooms, the albedo effect decreases leading to a faster melting of the glacier. According to Steffi Lutz, lead author from the University of Leeds, the red algae needs water in order to spread, so as long as there is plenty of snow, the algal bloom will continue infesting the glaciers.
Because climate change continues, scientists believe that the red algal bloom is far from being over. Worse, if the ice keeps melting there will be a higher amount of water which will be the ideal environment for the red algae spread.
In other words, we have no reason to enjoy the pink snow. If scientists found a way to stop the ice from melting, then the algal bloom will cease as well. This type of red algae needs liquid water to thrive. The statistics showed that snow consists of more than 30 percent of the surface of the earth every year.
This percentage drops off only during spring and summer providing the ideal environment for the red algae to take its toll on the glaciers leading to a pink snow.
Image Source: Pixabay