DISCUSSION: When it comes to snow, images of white fluffy flakes come to mind; but, have you ever imagined pink-colored snow? Well, a microscopic reddish-colored algae called Chlamydomonas (kla-me-duh-moo-nus) Nivalis can be found in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and Colorado’s alpine regions (seen in Image 1). Normally, the algae is green, but it can acquire a red hue by absorbing ultraviolet rays in cold temperatures. European scientists have discovered that the algae decreases the snow’s red albedo, or proportion of light reflected by the surface, by 13 percent. Geobiologists have even found a correlation between pink snow and the melting of glaciers in the Arctic regions.
You’ll want to admire the pink snow from a distance as the algae can be slightly toxic and will most likely result in an upset stomach, if inhaled or consumed. If you ever find yourself in a cold Arctic-type, snow-covered region, you too can feel like a local by calling it “Watermelon or Blood Snow”.
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©2017 Weather Forecaster Amber Liggett