In Antarctica, it’s snowing green

12 months ago

Green snow due to blooming algae will spread on the Antarctic peninsula as temperatures rise due to climate change, a new study has shown.

Satellite data collected between 2017 and 2019, combined with ground measurements in Antarctica, have enabled scientists at the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey to map the movement of microscopic algae that grow in the melting snow of the Antarctic Peninsula. Warming can create a more ‘habitable’ environment for algae, the authors say.

When these organisms grow at the same time, they make the snow bright green, and it can be seen even from space.

Green snow algae spots can be found along Antarctic coastlines, usually in “warmer” areas where average temperatures are just above zero degrees Celsius during the summer months of the southern hemisphere from November to February. Researchers argue that the Antarctic Peninsula is part of a region that experienced the fastest warming in the second half of last century.

The results have been published in Nature Communications.

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