Recent findings in Nature Communications forlornly have more bad news for the northern reaches of the planet earth. All across the globe, there are a certain variety of algae that blossom in the snow, from the ice monarchy of Greenland and the Antarctic to the peaks of the European and Japanese Alps. The green algae take on the red a red color, as does the snow they are residing in. It might appear somehow beautiful, but it significantly lessens the reflectivity of the snow or ice.
The lower the reflectivity of the snow, the more heat they will adsorb, and the quicker the snow will melt. Because of the effect, the existence of these algae is causing a response known as bio-albedo feedback that is responsible for accelerating the disintegration of snow cover around the globe. As this massive study points out, this watermelon snow consequence is getting more and more intoxicating as time goes by.
These algae lay dormant during the winter session as they are waiting for the ice to start thawing and the surroundings start to get warmer before they thrive and reproduce and grow into their environment. Unluckily, record untimely glacier melts are indeed causing them to thrive earlier, which imply that they are reducing the albedo of the ice and snow sooner than previously.
It is important feedback cycle whereby the red algae can lessen the neighboring snow’s albedo by up to 13 %. The algae are not constrained to certain small areas of the snow cover as well; even the most conservative approximation hint that 50 percent of the snow glaciers in this region comprise red algae by the moment the melting has lesion down.
The results indicate that the bio-albedo effect is essential and has to be taken into consideration in upcoming climate models.