Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Watermelon Snow

Black, white and red all over: The phenomenon of red snow, known as watermelon snow, is accelerating the melting of the glaciers. | KYODO

Watermelon snow is speeding up the melting of glaciers, Japanese scientists report

The Japan Times  Aug 13, 2018 
The phenomenon known as watermelon snow, when snow is colored red, which occurs in various places around the globe, is caused by an algae that speeds up the melting of glaciers. The majority of the algae found at both the north and south poles is of this type. These are among the findings from research by Chiba University professor of glacial biology Nozomu Takeuchi and Takahiro Segawa, University of Yamanashi assistant professor of glacial biology, announced on Aug. 6 in the online edition of the British scientific journal Nature Communications.

According to professor Takeuchi, to protect its DNA from damage when exposed to strong light, the arctic algae stores a large quantity of red pigment that acts like a sunglass lens and blocks UV rays. When the algae amasses in large amounts, the snow appears red, which allows glaciers and ice sheets to absorb more sunlight, which in turn speeds up the melting.

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