Algae turn Italian Alps pink, prompting concerns over melting

Algae turn Italian Alps pink, prompting concerns over melting

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 5, 2020 SNIP: Scientists in Italy are investigating the mysterious appearance of pink glacial ice in the Alps, caused by algae that accelerate the effects of climate change. There is debate about where the algae come from, but Biagio Di Mauro of Italy’s National Research Council said the pink snow observed on parts of the Presena glacier is likely caused by the same plant found in Greenland. “The alga is not dangerous, it is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the spring and summer periods in the middle latitudes but also at the Poles,” said Di Mauro, who had previously studied the algae at the Morteratsch glacier in Switzerland. The plant, known as Ancylonema nordenskioeldii, is present in Greenland’s so-called Dark Zone, where the ice is also melting. Normally ice reflects more than 80% of the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere, but as algae appear, they darken the ice so that it absorbs the heat and melts more quickly. More algae appear as the ice melts more rapidly, giving them vital water and air and adding red hues to the white ice at the Passo Gavia, altitude 2,618 metres (8,590 feet). Tourists at the glacier lament the impact of climate change. “Overheating of the planet is a problem, the last thing we needed was algae,” said tourist Marta Durante. “Unfortunately we are doing irreversible damage. We are already at the point of no return, I...
Climate Connection: Unraveling the Surprising Ecology of Dust

Climate Connection: Unraveling the Surprising Ecology of Dust

SOURCE: Yale Environment 360 DATE: November 30, 2017 SNIP: High in the snowfields atop the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, things are not as pristine as they used to be. Dust from the desert Southwest is sailing into the Rockies in increasing quantities and settling onto the snow that covers the peaks, often streaking the white surface with shades of red and brown. The amount of dust that settles on snow varies from year to year. From 2005 to 2008, about five times as much dust fell on the Rockies as during the 1800s, and those years are characterized by researchers as moderately dusty, according to a recent study. In 2009 and 2010, however, the Rockies saw an extreme dust scenario, with the amount of dust blowing onto the mountains mushrooming to five times more than those moderate years. The cause, scientists say, was increasing drought — linked to a warming climate — and human development. Because darker, dust-flecked snow absorbs more solar energy and warms faster than pure white snow, it means snow cover melts earlier — a lot earlier. “It’s not subtle at all,” said Jeff Deems, a research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. “There is 30 to 60 days difference in the melt out. Over a larger watershed, it’s...
Rivers Are Flooding Earlier in Parts of Europe as Climate Changes

Rivers Are Flooding Earlier in Parts of Europe as Climate Changes

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: Aug 10, 2017 SNIP: Spring flooding along many of Europe’s rivers is starting weeks earlier now than it did 50 years ago, and some winter flooding is starting later as the climate changes, a new study shows. In Scandinavia and the Baltics—where snowmelt is the main driver of high water—spring floods are coming a week earlier than they did 50 years ago. Along the North Atlantic coast from Portugal to England, winter flooding in many places occurs 15 to 36 days earlier, driven by changes in the timing of winter rain storms and changes in soil moisture. “The trends we found are in line with projections from climate models. We can see climate change very clearly,” said co-author Berit Arheimer of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological...