Algae microbes cause ‘blood snow’ to melt faster creating havoc on glaciers


In Alaska, scientists from Alaska Pacific University’s Department of Environmental Science, found that an algae species growing on glaciers that turns the snow a red or pink color causes the snow and ice to warm up and melt faster. The blood or watermelon colored snow soaks up more sunlight because of its color. Researchers measurements and testing found that the microbes are responsible for about a sixth of the snowmelt in algae-tinged areas.

The pink or red color is caused by Chlamydomonas nivalis algae and related species which thrive in cold water. They usually bloom in the spring and summer and because they cause the snow to melt quicker, it actually helps spur more algae growth and creating a vicious cycle of glacial melting.