Appearance Of 'Watermelon Snow' Important In Studying Melting Glaciers

First Posted: Jun 27, 2016 06:24 AM EDT

The watermelon snow in the arctic could play a major role in the warming of the colder parts of the planet. Global warming models should take them into account, considering that there could be a possible repercussion to the phenomenon.

According to Pulse Headlines, this snow forms as the summer sun heats up. By the time summer arrives, the melting could produce blooming environments for large communities of algae. Most of them are commonly green, but the heat creates a red color that combines it with the snow. Nature Communications noted that the red algae also lowers the snow's albedo - or its ability to reflect light by 13 percent, which is why the red snow appears when the ice is melting - the lowered albedo causes the snow to soak up heat.

This is one of the key parameters regarding the glacial melt - the Arctic is now being affected disproportionately by global warming. It is still not clear how much red snow is accounted for, but according to researchers, the effects on albedo are going be important for these glaciers, as they play a huge role in the climate system.

The growth of the blooms, according to The Daily Mail, however, relies on the availability of liquid water and sunlight in the Arctic and the mountains. Researchers are still out to investigate the diversity of algae and other microbial communities.

Stefanie Lutz, a post-doc at the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ and at the University of Leeds said, "Our results point out that the 'bio-albedo' effect is important and has to be considered in future climate models."

They also noted that these algae blooms will have a runaway effect - as glaciers and snow continue to thaw, more of these algae will bloom, causing more darkening and accelerates melting rates.

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