BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: Ukrainian Antarctic Academic Vernadsky Station has shared photos of a strange natural phenomenon — red snow. Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science showed an island off the coast of Antarctica’s northernmost peninsula covered in ‘blood snow’. The photographs show white snow with streaks of what seems to be blood.
Scientist said that microscopic snow algae give an interesting colour to the snow. “Our scientists have identified them under the microscope as Chlamydomonas Chlamydomonas Nivalis,” the Facebook post read.
Algae are propagated by spores that are immune to extreme temperatures and remain in the snow throughout the long winter. When the weather becomes favourable —in Antarctica, it’s summer now — disputes begin to sprout.
In addition to the green pigment — chlorophyll, their cells also contain a red carotene layer — there are red spots in the snow, as if from a raspberry jam. By the way, this layer protects the algae from ultraviolet radiation.
However, the stunning natural phenomenon has some drawbacks. Snow blossoms contribute to climate change. Because of the red-crimson colour, the snow reflects less sunlight and melts faster. As a consequence, it produces more and more bright algae.
With the onset of the cold, the chlamydomonade prepares for winter rest and the “flowering” of the snow stops.
Interestingly, in addition to Antarctica, this phenomenon can be observed in the Arctic as well as in the Alps and other high mountain ecosystems.