Every summer, colorful algae colonize thousands of snowfields in North America.
Researchers estimate that colored snow contributed an average of three centimeters of snowmelt water per season.
Snow algae contributed were found on 4552 of the 8700 glaciers studied. Some had only one patch, while others had large blooms. For example, in 2020, algae covered nearly two-thirds of the surface of Alberta's Bow Glacier in the Wapta Icefield.
Glaciers along the Pacific Northwest coast are usually teeming with algae, but during the heat dome three years ago, the ice melted so quickly that the blooms of the ice melted. water did not have time to develop.
According to Lynne Quarmby, when the snow begins to disappear with rising temperatures, the algae will also disappear. This will mean the loss of a valuable ecosystem that scientists are only beginning to understand.
According to Scott Hotaling, an ecologist from At Utah State University which was not involved in the study, the research findings of Lynne Quarmby and Casey Engstrom provide an important baseline for evaluating the impact of snow algae on retreating glaciers.