Blood Snow

Yellow snow isn’t the only colored snow to fear nowadays. Blood snow has been ravaging the snowy regions around the world, creating a slippery slope for chilly ecosystems worldwide.

The “blood” snow isn’t even the worst part: The higher melting rate of ice that it causes is far more problematic.

During summertime in chilly ecosystems around the world, the sun’s heat causes snow to turn a pinkish-reddish hue. This pink snow is called chlamydomonas nivalis – algae that contains a red pigment second to chlorophyll. The algae thrives in liquid water and produces a pink pigment upon gaining an abundance of sun. The color adds to a darkish tint that fosters the heating of snow at a quicker rate.

In simpler terms, a feedback loop is created: As the snow melts the algae blooms, which further melts the snow. Red algae also decreases the snow’s albedo, or the amount of light, that is reflected instead of absorbed. Based on recent studies, pink snow has a thirteen percent decrease of albedo compared to normal snow, which means that dark snow absorbs more light and increases melting.

This process doesn’t just occur in in the polar regions of the world: The Himalayan Glaciers, Alpine, and even California suffer from this “blood snow” as well. The pink snow proves to be a worldwide epidemic with real effects that should be further investigated to decipher its connection with global warming.

Researchers are trying to gain more information on the melting. “There’s a growing push to understand the impact of microorganisms on glaciers and ice sheets,” says Christopher Williamson, microbiologist at the University of Bristol.

Pink snow is increasing due to global warming, and if this epidemic continues, winter wonderlands might become replaced with what looks like the aftermath of a blood bath. However, with proper treatment of the environment, yellow snow might be the only color we have to keep our eye on.

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