Mysterious pink snow on a glacier in the Italian Alps

Mystérieuse neige rose sur un glacier des Alpes italiennes

Photo: Miguel Medina Agence France-Presse
An aerial view of the Presena glacier as of June 3, 2020

Scientists are investigating the mysterious pink color of a glacier in the Italian Alps, a color probably caused by algae which would accelerate the effects of climate change.

The origin of the algae is discussed, but the pink color of the snow, observed on parts of the Presena glacier, is likely to be caused by the same plant discovery in Greenland, according to the member of the national research Centre Biagio Di Mauro.

“The algae is not dangerous, it is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the spring and summer in the middle latitudes, but also at the poles,” explained the scientist, who studies the phenomenon.

The algae, of the species Ancylonema nordenskioeldii, are also present in Greenland, in an area where the ice is melting.

In normal times, the ice reflects more than 80 % of the solar radiation in the atmosphere. But the algae obscuring the snow, which absorbs more heat and melts more quickly.

More and more algae will appear as the snow melts quickly, gives a red hue to the white ice of the neck of the Gavia at 2618 meters above sea level.

“We are trying to quantify the effects of other phenomena that caused by the man on the overheating of the Earth,” continued Mr. Di Mauro, stating that hikers and ski lifts could also have an effect on the algae.

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