Is the Blood Snow in Antarctica a Biblical Sign from Above?
No this is not a scene from "Fargo 2" although it certainly does look like a gruesome scene strait out of a horror movie. The truth of the matter is, sometimes reality is far scarier then fiction.
Over the past several weeks, during record high temps in the Antarctica. The ice around Ukraine's Vernadsky Research Base (located on Galindez Island, off the coast of Antarctica's northernmost peninsula) has been coated in what researchers are calling "Blood Snow."
The blood (or "jam" as the researchers kiddingly call it) is actually a type of red-pigmented alga called Chlamydomonas Chlamydomonas nivalis. The algae thrive in freezing water and spend winters lying dormant in snow and ice; during summer months the algae bloom, spreading red, flower-like spores.
The phenomenon's red color comes from carotenoids (the same pigments that make pumpkins and carrots orange) in the algae's chloroplasts. In addition to their crimson hue, these pigments also absorb heat and protect the algae from ultraviolet light, allowing the organisms to bask in the summer sun's nutrients without risk of genetic mutations.
According to the Ukrainian researchers, it’s easy for these blooms to kick off a runaway loop of warming and melting. The team wrote in the Facebook post.
"Snow blossoms contribute to climate change," "Because of the red-crimson color, the snow reflects less sunlight and melts faster. As a consequence, it produces more and more bright algae."
Basically the more heat the algae absorbs, the faster the surrounding ice melts. The more ice that melts, the faster the algae can spread. That, in turn, leads to more warming, more melting, and more algal blooming. And this is not good for glacier melting.
A similar process is driving more extreme algal blooms in oceans all over the world, resulting in horrific scenes. Like an invasion of sea foam in Spain and blue bioluminescent "tears" clinging to China's coasts.
While 'Blood Snow' has existed for millions of years, algal blooms thrive in warm weather, meaning we can probably expect to see more events like this as the climate continues to change around the world.