Cosmopolitan snow algae accelerate melting of Arctic glaciers
22 June, 2016
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 quite some time that red pigmented snow algae blooming on icy surfaces darken the surface which in turn leads to less albedo and a higher uptake of heat. The new study by Stefanie Lutz, postdoc at the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ and at the University of Leeds, shows a 13 per cent reduction of the albedo over the course of one melting season caused by red-pigmented snow algal blooms.