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Arctic turning bright pink color due to algae

Posted on Sunday, 26 June, 2016 | Comment icon 7 comments

The snow is so pink that it looks like cotton candy. Image Credit: Liane G. Benning / GFZ
The pristine white of the Arctic landscape seems to have been turning a rather unusual shade of pink.
First reported back in 1818 by British Admiral Sir John Ross, the tendency for the Arctic snow and ice to turn pink is a phenomenon that has been occurring increasingly often in recent years.

Now according to researchers from England and Germany, the answer to this mystery lies in a chemical reaction which occurs when sunlight hits the algae living in the snow.

This might seem harmless enough at a glance, but in the long term this unusual discoloration has the potential to accelerate global warming by reducing the reflective properties of the snow.

The team studied samples from 16 glaciers in Sweden, Greenland, Iceland and Norway before concluding that this pink color made the snow absorb 13% more heat than when it is white.

"Imagine wearing black instead of a white T-shirt in the sun. It feels much hotter," said Stefanie Lutz, one of the study's co-authors. "It is the same for the snow: More heat means more melting."

Source: Christian Science Monitor | Comments (7)

Tags: Pink, Snow, Arctic

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Farmer77 on 26 June, 2016, 13:41
Its sadly ironic that the algae looks just like aircraft deicing fluid  .
Comment icon #2 Posted by Trenix on 26 June, 2016, 14:18
Global warming, really? Wasn't the name recently changed to climate change because global warming was so deceptive?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Farmer77 on 26 June, 2016, 14:20
IDK there seems to be a certain percentage of folks who are determined to continue using that term despite the negative effects it has on making overall progress towards improving the environment. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Still Waters on 26 June, 2016, 15:31
The snow/ice turning pink reminds me of a slaughter scene.
Comment icon #5 Posted by glorybebe on 26 June, 2016, 15:56
Quite apt.  
Comment icon #6 Posted by phantulum on 26 June, 2016, 20:43
Pink float ice is the first sign of spring in our harbor. It does look like a slaughter sometimes; especially when it's very thick.
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer on 27 June, 2016, 18:23
Since every color that absorbs light can contribute to climate change/global warming, let's paint everything white and reflect all the light back.  Better yet anything that's silvery and shiny.  That will fix the problem! Yeah, RIGHT!  If the Earth starts to cool and the glaciers start to advance again, we'll be in a new ice age, just like in the 1960's.  In less than 50 years we when from new ice age to global warming.

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