Snow Algae Fastens The Melting Of Arctic Glaciers

Posted: Jun 22 2016, 10:48am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Snow Algae Fastens the Melting of Arctic Glaciers
Red pigmented snow algae darken the surface of snow and ice in the Arctic. Credit: Liane G. Benning/GFZ
  • Colored Snow Algae increases the Meltdown of Arctic Glaciers

It has been found that colored snow algae increases the meltdown of Arctic glaciers.

Red pigmented snow algae have wreaked havoc in the Arctic region. Their power to influence a total meltdown of glaciers has been vastly underestimated. This was so according to a recent study which was published in the journal NATURE Communications today.

The white snow reflects sunlight which is a phenomenon termed albedo. However, red algae that appears on the surface of ice and snow tends to cause a loss of albedo thereby leading to an uptake of heat. Over one such melting season, a 13% decrease in albedo occurred which was not a good sign.

The albedo ought to be brought back into its rightful ratio, if we are to have a modicum of environmental harmony. Future climate models will have to take this factor into consideration.

Red snow is a common sight during the summer months. Both the water and the sunlight combine to feed the red algae in just the right amount so as to ensure its survival. In the winter months on the contrary the red algae undergo a state of dormancy.

The researchers used various instruments to understand both the albedo and red algae in the Arctic environment. Genetic sequencing of the microbes took place on a thorough basis.

Over 40 samples were collected from 21 glaciers. The bacteria samples were very diverse. Yet the red algae samples showed little biodiversity. Thus it was found that throughout the Arctic region, it was probably the same strain of red algae that was causing such an extreme meltdown in the first place.

Algae and albedo thus interact in order to cause this deleterious phenomenon. For a large portion of modern history, scientists have not studied bio-albedo in an extensive manner. Yet now they are making progress in the analysis of this feature of the cold and frigid regions of the earth.

The overall effect of microorganisms on the meltdown was a source of much knowledge and information that will come in handy in searching for a cure of the issue in the future.

Both geochemistry and mineralogy play a fundamental part in this phenomenon. They have to be mined in order to find a solution to this conundrum. Otherwise the record levels of meltwater will lead to a rise in coastal waters in the future.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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