And yet another unaccounted for climate variable: snow algae accelerates melting of Arctic glaciers

Watts Up With That?

Earlier, we published a story about how clouds near airplane contrails get brighter, reflecting more solar radiation to space. Now, on the surface, this new study says that Arctic glaciers are melting faster because red algae is changing the albedo of the ice, increasing uptake of solar radiation. It is just one more example of how complex the climate issue is and how oversimplified looking at one variable, CO2, is.

Cosmopolitan snow algae accelerate the melting of Arctic glaciers

red-snow-algae Red pigmented snow algae darken the surface of snow and ice in the Arctic. CREDIT Liane G. Benning/GFZ


The role of red pigmented snow algae in melting Arctic glaciers has been strongly underestimated, suggests a study to be published in NATURE Communications on June 22. White areas covered with snow and ice reflect sunlight; the effect is called albedo. It has been known for…

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