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Thursday, April 09, 2020

Viral images show Antarctica’s snow turning red due to microscopic algae

The phenomenon is said to be caused by a microscopic algae that thrives in sub-zero temperatures.

By: Trends Desk | Updated: February 28, 2020 5:56:09 pm
Antarctica, red snow, Antarctic turns red, Antarctica red snow, Antarctica red coloured snow, National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine, Blood colour snow, snow turns red in Antarctica, Chlamydomonas nivalis, Ukraine, Antarctica, Trending, Indian Express news It is the red  carotene layer present in the algae that make the snow to look like “raspberry jam”

Scientists at a research centre in the Antarctica recently released images of snow around their research base to turn red in colour and the images have since gone viral.

The strange phenomenon is said to be caused due to microscopic algae called Chlamydomonas nivalis that thrives in sub-zero temperatures, the National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine, which is a part of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine explained in a now-viral Facebook post.

EXPLAINED | Why is snow in Antarctica turning blood-red, why it is bad news

Besides the green pigment – chlorophyll which all algae contains – their cells also contains a red carotene layer, which mixes with the green colour to cause snow to look like “raspberry jam”. This layer is also said to protect the algae from ultraviolet radiation.

However, the ministry also said that the spread of the algae, which is also dubbed as “snow blossom” contributes to climate change due to its darker colour. Due to the red colour, the snow reflects less sunlight, which causes it to melt faster.

The ministry said that the phenomena can be observed in the Arctic, the Alps and other high mountain ecosystems.

Here’s how people reacted to the images of “watermelon snow”:

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