Bright Pink Snow In Italian Alps Is A Cute Sign Of Environmental Disaster
When something presents itself in an attractive way, it can be easy to assume it must be a good thing.
So when you first look at these pictures of seemingly pink snow falling on the top of the Alps, your first thought, like mine was, is probably ‘cute!’.
Usually, pink snow can only be found in spring and summer, when there is the right amount of light, water and warmth for algae to grow. It will remain under the snow and ice until melting season begins, when the snow washes away to reveal the pink beneath.
In the past, this beautiful phenomenon usually wouldn’t be much cause for concern, but this time is very different.
According to Biagio Di Mauro, a researcher at the Institute of Polar Sciences at Italy’s National Research Council, the most recent pink snow spotted on Presena Glacier in the Alps could be having an impact on snowmelt.
This is because the pink snow – more commonly known as watermelon snow – isn’t as good at reflecting the sun’s rays as the white snow. Therefore, it is less effective at keeping things cool.
Obviously, this isn’t good news for the polar and mountain regions, which are already suffering at the hands of climate change.
In fact, some alarming research published last year predicted that as much as half of the Alps’ glaciers could disappear in this century as temperatures continue to rise.
Speaking to Earther, Di Mauro explained: ‘Less solid precipitation during winter and higher air temperatures during spring and summer are expected to favour the formation of snow- and glacier-algae,’ however he added that there’s ‘little information on this aspect.’
While many of us will have never seen watermelon snow bloom, the Presena Glacier bloom isn’t alone this year, with several other blooms popping up in Alaska and Galindez Island off northern Antarctica.
However, algae isn’t the only reason snow and ice have turned pink in recent years. In 2019, glaciers in New Zealand turned pink as a result of devastating bushfires that unfolded in neighbouring Australia. Sadly, the result is much the same, though, as ash – like algae – absorbs the heat and in turn leads to more snow and ice melting.
As we learn more about this phenomenon, some scientists have argued that watermelon snow bloom needs to be built into climate models so we can gain more understanding on what kind of effects it could cause to the future of global warming.
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