Spooky 'blood snow' invades Antarctic island

The blood-red algae behind the phenomenon could kick off a runaway feedback loop of warming, researchers warned.

2/29/2020 12:01:00 AM

Over the past several weeks, the ice around Ukraine's Vernadsky Research Base located on Galindez Island, off the coast of Antarctica's northernmost peninsula, has been coated in what researchers are calling 'raspberry snow.'

The blood-red algae behind the phenomenon could kick off a runaway feedback loop of warming, researchers warned.

Blood-red algae blanket the snow near Antarctica's Vernadsky Research Base.Andrey ZotovThe phenomenon's red color comes from carotenoids (the same pigments that make pumpkins and carrots orange) in the algae's chloroplasts. In addition to their crimson hue, these pigments also absorb heat and protect the algae from

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ultraviolet light, allowing the organisms to bask in the summer sun's nutrients without risk of genetic mutations.That's good for the algae but not great for the ice. According to the Ukrainian researchers, it’s easy for these blooms to kick off a runaway feedback loop of warming and melting.

"Snow blossoms contribute to climate change," the team wrote in the Facebook post."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 more heat the algae absorbs, the faster the surrounding ice melts. The more ice that melts, the faster the algae can spread. That, in turn, leads to more warming, more melting, and more algal blooming.

Read more: NBC News »

Disgusting ChristopherJM What Looks like blood. My fat ass thought this was a margherita pizza 😂 There is nothing wrong with our environment. Blood If it happened on land would it be ' strawberry fields ' ? Probably from all the seal clubbing. cool

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