Why red snow of Arctic is a 'red alert' for the environment?

Recently scientists have spotted that the Arctic is being shaded by a red algae that is accelerating the melting of Arctic ice. 

By Shruti Mishra | Last Updated: Jun 27, 2016, 12:41 PM IST
Why red snow of Arctic is a 'red alert' for the environment?

New Delhi: It has many attractive names like pink snow, red snow, watermelon snow, and strawberry snow but it spells bad news for the polar region of Arctic.

Recently scientists have spotted that the Arctic is being shaded by a red algae that is accelerating the melting of Arctic ice.

A new research team of geobiologists from Germany and Britain said that the sunlight and frozen water acts as a perfect breeding ground for red algae and their sudden growth is causing the ice to melt faster. For their multiplication, they draw more heat with the help of their absorptive pigments which thereby melts the ice caps. Climate change is also playing a crucial role in their growth by melting even more of  icy water that feeds them.

The study published in the journal Nature Communications reveals that the presence of red algae has already lowered the snow's albedo or the ability of ice caps' to reflect light by 20%.

However, the appearance of red snow is not new in this region. Arctic explorers are observing this phenomena for centuries. In the nineteenth century many explorers such as British Admiral Sir John Ross noted that snow sometimes turns red at high altitudes but, until recently no in-depth study was done on this phenomena.