Did you know that in Antarctica, not all snow is white? Some are green, and it has been visible for years now. It also starts to spread across the continent, and we can thank climate change for that.
As per a new study, the green colors comes from the by microscopic algae that are blooming on the surface of the snow. By using satellite data, researchers from the University of Cambridge created the first large-scale map of the green algae. And together with the British Antarctic Survey, they were able to predict how fast it will spread.
We can see along the Antarctic coast the green snow – it is growing in warmer areas. That’s where the average temperatures reach above the freezing temperature in the summer. The algae are microscopic, but when they grow at scale, the snow – the green snow – can be seen from the space.
The team has combined the research gotten from the ground with certain imaged from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 2 satellite. The team has found more than 1600 separate algal blooms in the snow. They have also found that the places where snow algae are found depend on the marine birds and mammals. Apparently, their excrement is as a fertilizer. Also, more than 60% of the blooms were found near penguin colonies, and others were found near nests of birds.
Dr. Matt Davey, the lead author of the study, stated: “This is a significant advance in our understanding of land-based life on Antarctica, and how it might change in the coming years as the climate warms.”
If the populations of birds are affected by climate change – and they probably will – these algae could lose nutrients. But it seems that this green snow will spread, since the global temperature rises.