SCIENCE

Pretty Pink Snow In The Arctic Causes Rapid Glacier Melt

Pink Snow
(Photo : Getty Images/AFP) Pink snow in the Arctic may be a beautiful naturally occurring phenomenon, but scientists suggest that the pastel colored snow is something to be concerned about.

Pink snow in the Arctic may be a beautiful naturally occurring phenomenon, but scientists suggest that the pastel colored snow is something to be concerned about.

A new study has found that the Arctic's "watermelon snow", a phenomenon caused by algae that live in the snow, leads to rapid ice melting in the region's icy glaciers, writes Nature World News.

As global warming continues unabated, higher temperatures have led to an increase in red algae populations, resulting in faster glacier erosion in the Arctic, according to the study.

The algae are most commonly found in polar and alpine environments like those found in Greenland, Antarctica, the Alps and Iceland. When temperatures rise, the red algae blooms.

The albedo effect is a measure of reflectivity of a surface. Glaciers have a high albedo measure due to their coloring and ability to keep the earth cool by reflecting sunlight. The red algae could accelerate melting by up to 13 percent, as it changes the color of the glacier surface -- altering its ability to reflect sunlight away from the surface.

Steffi Lutz of the University of Leeds and lead author of the study told Gizmodo that the red algae also rely on an abundance of water to bloom and spread. This means that as now melts in the Arctic, the increased amount of water present will lead to higher population of the algae.

"With temperatures rising globally, the snow algae phenomenon will likely also increase leading to an even higher bio-albedo effect," she said, reports National Geographic.

Lutz and her team also calculated how much glacier melt the red algae populations would have caused.

"Based on personal observations, a conservative estimate would be 50 percent of the snow surface on a glacier at the end of a melt season. But this can potentially be even higher," she added.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

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