Pink Arctic Snow: What's Causing This Phenomenon? Effects of Climate Change

Occurrence of 'Watermelon Snow' Leads to Faster Melting of the Arctic

Pink snow or "watermelon snow" in the Arctic has started to surface. Though it's pretty to the eye, experts say its occurrence signals something bad for the environment.

What is Pink Snow?

Pink Snow occurs when green algae absorbs ultraviolet rays, resulting to ice glaciers melting faster. The unusual incident happens in places with high altitude such as the Alps, Arctic and Greenlad. The presence of "watermelon snow" sends an alarming message that climate change could get worse.

Environment experts note that the effects of this phenomenon to the surroundings remain understudied and vague. However, there's a growing concern that the prevelance of pink snow lessens its albedo effect. Albedo effect is the ability of ice glaciers to reflect sunlight. This means that as the red algae population increase, the lesser sunlight is reflected, resulting to warmer temperatures.

The 'Albedo Effect'

The red algae's behavior can be compared to people not wearing dark-colored shirts during a hot day because the material and the color absorbs more light. On the other hand, the albedo effect is like a white or light-colored shirt that absorbs lesser heat and light from the sun.

In an attempt to find more answers about the existence of this pink snow, a recent study conducted by the University of Leeds and the German Research Centre for Geosciences looked into glacier samples taken from Iceland, Sweden and Greenland.

Why Ice in the Arctic is Melting Faster?

The researchers discovered that more algae forms on the snow when glaciers melt, and, in turn, causes more ice melting. This points to the reality that the Arctic is melting faster with the algae destroying the ability of snow to reflect sunlight.

"Our results point out that the 'bio-albedo' effect is important and has to be considered in future climate models," said Stefanie Lutz, the lead author of the research.

Start of the Phenomenon

Experts in science reportedly discovered about this pink snow in 1818 but thought that it was caused by iron deposits of a meteor. They later found out that they were dealing with a different but far worse reason for this. This prompted scientists to push on the study of the effects of albedo to climate change.

A more concerning issue is that the algae on snow could continuously bloom and multiply causing more snow to melt. The melting also encourages more algae to grow on snow.

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