This pink snow may be pretty, but it’s terrible news for the environment

June 27, 2016 by  
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Pink snow might sound outlandish, but it can actually be found around the world. While it may be pretty, it turns out it really isn’t a good look: the color is caused by blooming algae , which cause the snow to melt quicker. As the climate changes, these algae thrive – but their presence has ominous implications for glaciers . In a study published this week in Nature Communications , scientists from the UK and Germany scrutinized the algae and an effect called “bio-albedo.” White surfaces, like glaciers and snow, reflect sunlight, and that’s called albedo. When those glaciers and snow melt, they reveal darker surfaces beneath, like mountains or oceans, and those surfaces have a lower albedo, or absorb greater amounts of sunlight. That effect is important because red algae actually gives snow a lower albedo and makes it melt faster. Related: Arctic temperatures are literally off the charts Lead author Stefanie Lutz told Gizmodo, “The algae need liquid water in order to bloom . Therefore the melting of snow and ice surfaces controls the abundance of the algae. The more melting, the more algae. With temperatures rising globally, the snow algae phenomenon will likely also increase leading to an even higher bio-albedo effect.” Lutz’s study reveals ” red pigmented snow algal blooms ” can decrease snow albedo by 13 percent during a melt season. The phenomenon takes place all around the world, too, from the Arctic to Antarctica. Greenland, the European Alps, and Iceland are a few other places where people have noted the algae. The algae is especially prevalent in the Arctic during the summer, when Lutz says by her estimation at least 50 percent of snow on a glacier displays the blooms. Lutz and her colleagues recommended the algae be taken into account in future climate models, because warmer temperatures will likely mean more algae, and therefore even more melting. Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Dick Culbert on Flickr

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This pink snow may be pretty, but it’s terrible news for the environment

Alaska’s glacial melt could create the world’s sixth largest coastal river

March 24, 2015 by  
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The glaciers are melting. That’s the old news. The update is that, in Alaska, there has also been a massive amount of rainfall. The combination of rain and glacial melt create a flow of freshwater that is doing what water does: flowing down to sea level. Right now, the water is flowing toward the gulf in many small streams but, because this is happening in such a small area of land on the Gulf of Alaska, it’s possible that the streams will join into one larger moving body of water. If that happens, a new coastal river would be born and, reportedly, it would be the world’s sixth largest of its kind. Read the rest of Alaska’s glacial melt could create the world’s sixth largest coastal river Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alaska glaciers , Climate Change , coastal river , freshwater runoff , glacial melt , glaciers melting , global warming , largest coastal river , massive rain in alaska

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Alaska’s glacial melt could create the world’s sixth largest coastal river

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