Snow is turning green in Antarctica

Green snow created by blooming algae in the Antarctic Peninsula is likely to spread as temperatures increase as a result of climate change, researchers have said, after creating the first large-scale map of the organisms and their movements.

Satellite data gathered between 2017 and 2019, combined with on-the-ground measurements over two summers in Antarctica, allowed scientists to map the microscopic algae as they bloomed across the snow of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Warming temperatures could create more “habitable” environments for the algae, which need wet snow to grow in, researchers told CNN.

Green snow alga is microscopic when measured individually, but when the organisms grow simultaneously, they turn the snow bright green, and can even be spotted from space, researchers said in a study published in the Nature Communications journal on Wednesday.

Researcher Matt Davey samples snow algae at Lagoon Island, Antarctica, in 2018.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey used European Space Agency satellite data with measurements from Antarctica’s Ryder Bay, Adelaide Island, the Fildes Peninsula and King George Island.

Patches of green snow algae can be found along the Antarctic coastline, usually in “warmer” areas, where average temperatures are a little above zero degrees Celsius during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months of November to February.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey used European Space Agency satellite data with measurements from Antarctica’s Ryder Bay, Adelaide Island, the Fildes Peninsula and King George Island.

Patches of green snow algae can be found along the Antarctic coastline, usually in “warmer” areas, where average temperatures are a little above zero degrees Celsius during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months of November to February.

Survival pod on Anchorage Island, Antarctica, 2018.

Researchers believe the organisms will expand as global temperatures increase.

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