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Green snow in Antarctica? Scientists explain reason behind phenomenon in new study

Why is there green snow in Antarctica?

This January 2017 photo provided by Ted Scambos shows sea ice on the ocean surrounding Antarctica during an expedition to the Ross Sea. Ice in the ocean off the southern continent steadily increased from 1979 and hit a record high in 2014.
This January 2017 photo provided by Ted Scambos shows sea ice on the ocean surrounding Antarctica during an expedition to the Ross Sea. Ice in the ocean off the southern continent steadily increased from 1979 and hit a record high in 2014.
AP

Scientists have said that climate change may be the reason for a recent round of green snow in Antarctica.

What’s the news:

  • Scientists released a new peer-reviewed study in Nature Communications that looked into why there is green snow in Antarctica.
  • The study said there is microscopic algae that blooms across snow in Antarctica. The algae, though microscopic, can be seen from space.
  • Researchers used a large-scale map through satellite data to show the green on the snow.
  • The algae bloomed in warmer areas where temperature was above freezing. This was specifically the case between November to February, which is the southern hemisphere’s summer months.

Why it matters

  • USA Today said: “While algae prefer warmer temperatures, scientists believe that rising global temperatures could also be to their detriment. Low-lying islands with no high ground may lose their summer snow because of climate change and with it their snow algae.”
  • According to CNN, the rising warming temperatures make these environments more “habitable.” Algae needs wet snow to grow.
  • “As Antarctica warms, we predict the overall mass of snow algae will increase, as the spread to higher ground will significantly outweigh the loss of small island patches of algae,” Dr. Andrew Gray, lead author of the paper, and a researcher at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement, according to CNN.