Arctic snow turns pink — and it’s scaring people

Arctic snow turns pink — and it’s scaring people

A bizarre phenomenon in the Arctic is making people concerned big time about what this means for our planet.

It’s certainly a bizarre sight, and it’s also an extremely ominous one for our planet, scientists are saying.

Vast portions of Arctic snow are turning a pink hue this month, and a new study published in the journal Nature Communications by scientists in England and Germany reveal that the pink coloring is a sign of algae.

Why is that a big deal? After all, it’s not the first time it’s happened — a British admiral back in 1818 first noticed that the snow at high altitudes would sometimes turn pink in the Arctic.

But scientists thought there might be a reason to be concerned abotu this algae, and decided to conduct a study on it. They collected snow sampels from 16 glaciers in Sweden, Greeland, Iceland and Norway, and found that the snow was absorbing more light because darker objects tend to do exactlyl that.

That’s a big problem for our environment due to the fact that it could worsen global warming and climate change. The snow changing a darker color could hasten the melting process, which could result in more algae growth and further accelerate the process. It means scientists will need to adjust future climate models to account for it.

“Our data reveal that red pigmented snow algae are cosmopolitan as well as independent of location-specific geochemical and mineralogical factors,” the abstract of the paper reads. “The patterns for snow algal diversity, pigmentation and, consequently albedo, are ubiquitous across the Arctic and the reduction in albedo accelerates snow melt and increases the time and area of exposed bare ice. We estimated that the overall decrease in snow albedo by red pigmented snow algal blooms over the course of one melt season can be 13%. This will invariably result in higher melt rates. We argue that such a ‘bio-albedo’ effect has to be considered in climate models.”



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