"Blood Snow" Invades Antarctic Island
Sun, April 18, 2021

"Blood Snow" Invades Antarctic Island


Algal blooms or the rapid increase in the population of algae in an aquatic system can grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful impacts on marine life. Recent reports have shown extreme algal blooms appearing in oceans across the world. For instance, seafoam has invaded the coastal beaches of Tossa de Mar in Spain; toxic bioluminescent algae called dinoflagellates lighted up the ocean surface of Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, and a rust-colored kind of algal blooms have appeared along the Florida coast.


Photo Credits: Live Science


However, things are getting worse as world temperatures continue to increase. For instance, a type of algae that normally thrives in freezing water and lie dormant across Antarctica's snow and ice are now in full bloom, covering the Antarctic Peninsula with blood-red, flower-like spores. The researchers call this “raspberry snow” or “watermelon snow,” which recently appeared in the Vernadsky Research Base located on the Galindez Island off the coast of Antarctica’s Northern Peninsula.


Photo Credits: Smithsonian Mag


According to Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture and history, the blood snow is caused by a type of red-pigmented alga called Chlamydomonas nivalis, which hides in snowfields and mountains worldwide. But, this isn’t the first time it was documented. Reports show that Aristotle noticed this phenomenon in the third century B.C. In 1818, Captain John Ross found pink snow during his expedition through the Northwest Passage.


Photo Credits: Science Alert


Scientists are now worried that these blooms would kick off a runaway feedback loop of warming and melting. According to Smithsonian Mag, the more sunlight the algae receive, the more it produces the “watermelon red” pigment, causing the snow to melt faster. "Snow blossoms contribute to climate change. Because of the red-crimson color, the snow reflects less sunlight and melts faster. As a consequence, it produces more and more bright algae,” the researchers said.