Why the last snow on Earth may be red – ”Snow-dwelling microbes increase glacier melt directly in a bio-geophysical feedback by lowering albedo”


Why the last snow on Earth may be red – ”Snow-dwelling microbes increase glacier melt directly in a bio-geophysical feedback by lowering albedo”
  1. Why the last snow on Earth may be red – ”Snow-dwelling microbes increase glacier melt directly in a bio-geophysical feedback by lowering albedo”
    desdemonadespair.net
    By Alan Burdick21 September 2017(The New Yorker) – Every spring, in alpine regions around the world, one of Earth’s tiniest migrations takes place. The migrants are single-celled green algae; they are kin to seaweed, but instead of living in the sea they live in snow. (Snow weed, maybe?) They spend the winter deep in the snowpack, atop last summer’s snow, as dormant cysts. In the spring, they wake and swim up through the trickle of snowmelt to the surface, dividing and photosynthesizing as …
    Environment

Hiking/Climbing Mount Ritter on the Inyo National Forest, Ansel Adams Wilderness, 28 August 2017. Approaching the middle of the Southeast Glacier and the chutes to the summit snowfield are visible to the right. 'Blood' colored snow is from algae. Temps in 60-70s. No wind. Photo: Paul Wade / USDA / Flickr

By Alan Burdick 21 September 2017

(The New Yorker) – Every spring, in alpine regions around the world, one of Earth’s tiniest migrations takes place. The migrants are single-celled green algae; they are kin to seaweed, but instead of living in the sea they live in snow. (Snow weed, maybe?) They spend the winter deep in the snowpack, atop last summer’s snow, as dormant cysts. In the spring, they wake and swim up through the trickle of snowmelt to the surface, dividing and photosynthesizing as they go. Then, at the top, they turn red. This creates what scientists call pink snow or watermelon snow—drifts and glaciers that look like Slush Puppies and eventually reduce to rivulets of crimson.

The color comes from astaxanthin, a molecular cousin of the chemical that makes carrots orange. The algae produce it seemingly as a sunscreen; it absorbs UV light, warming the organisms, and, critically, melting the surrounding snow. “The melting helps them a lot,” Roman Dial, a biologist at Alaska Pacific University, told me recently. “The surface of a snowfield can be a very dry place; the liquid water drains away. And life just can’t use frozen water. It’s like if you were out camping and your water bottle was frozen, you’d be thirsty until it melted.”

Watermelon snow is a perfectly natural phenomenon, but in an age of disappearing glaciers it is also problematic. Last year, scientists discovered that the algae had reduced the amount of sunlight reflected by some glaciers in Scandinavia—and increased the amount of sunlight absorbed—by thirteen per cent. The result, as Dial and his colleagues demonstrated in this month’s issue of Nature Geoscience, is faster melting. As in other parts of the warming planet—particularly the Arctic, where scientists fear that thawing permafrost may be triggering a climatic feedback loop—the effect is likely self-perpetuating. Ice sheets are already being darkened by dust, soot, and ash, which hasten melting and add nutrients on which algae can flourish. As the organisms proliferate, they melt even more snow, which allows them to proliferate again. “It spreads more rapidly than people realize, once it gets established,” Dial said. [more]

Why the Last Snow on Earth May Be Red

28 September 2017 (APU) – Prominent newspapers, magazines, and journals across the country, including The New Yorker, Business Insider, and Nature Geoscience, have picked up MSES student Gerard Ganey’s research paper on “watermelon snow” in recent weeks.

In his study, done with Professor Roman Dial, Ganey discussed how an algae species found in glaciers can tint the snow crimson and cause the surrounding ice to melt faster.

The paper explained that the red hue, which is found in alpine and polar settings around the world during spring and summer months, comes from a class of pigments in the algae. The more that are packed together, the redder the snow, and subsequently, the faster the ice melts. While the melt is good for the microbes that need the liquid water to survive and thrive, it’s bad for glaciers that are already melting from a myriad of other causes.

To further test their theory, the researchers grew the pink snow with water or fertilizer in experimental plots in Harding Icefield and compared the growth response of the algae to control plots where nothing was added (they also sprayed some algae-destroying bleach on a few plots to make up for it). Adding water, they found, led to a 50 percent growth compared to the control regions. Adding fertilizer quadrupled the growth.

They then tracked how much the areas melted over the course of 100 days. As they thought, places with more algae melted at a faster rate than where algae had been removed. They also employed satellite imagery to find that the algae grew on more than a third of the entire icefield (270 of 730 square miles).

Dial said it’s too early to tell just yet what the melting means for Alaskans.

“We need to know how widespread the effects of snow algae are on melt,” Dial explained. “If they are widespread, then it means algae could contribute substantially to glacier melting, sea level rise, and even warming, since they absorb solar energy that further melts glaciers that reflect light that generally cools the atmosphere. If they are not widespread, then it’s just an interesting fact.”

The next step in the process in seeing just how widespread the melt is will using satellite imagery. Professor Jason Geck’s Remote Sensing class is currently doing a class project on that right now.

Though Dial has been involved with snow algae studies for 15 years, he said MSES student Gerard Ganey was the lead author on the paper and did all of the work.

Over the course of the study, Ganey made dozens of trips up to Harding Icefield, none of the using helicopters or airplanes, rather all by foot and skiing. He enlisted APU Ski Team members and professional climbers to help him, as they were the only ones who could keep…

  1. Why the last snow on Earth may be red – ”Snow-dwelling microbes increase glacier melt directly in a bio-geophysical feed

    Desdemonadespair.net - Environment
    10.07 / 19:47 desdemonadespair.net
    By Alan Burdick21 September 2017(The New Yorker) – Every spring, in alpine regions around the world, one of Earth’s tiniest migrations takes place. The migrants are single-celled green algae; they are kin to seaweed, but instead of living in the sea they live in snow. (Snow weed, maybe?) They spend the winter deep in the snowpack, atop last summer’s snow, as dormant cysts. In the spring, they wake and swim up through the trickle of snowmelt to the surface, dividing and photosynthesizing as …
  2. Trump administration ordered to enforce methane restrictions launched under President Obama

    Desdemonadespair.net - Environment
    10.07 / 19:47 desdemonadespair.net
    By Evan Halper6 October 2017(The Los Angeles Times) – The Trump administration is not giving up on its effort to block Obama-era restrictions on the release of potent methane emissions at oil and gas drilling operations on public land, even after a federal judge ruled its suspension of the restrictions was illegal.The court ruling came Wednesday at the behest of California and other states, which charged the administration is required by law to enforce the new rules intended to cut the r…
  3. New climate risk classification created to account for potential “existential” threats – Researchers identify a one-in-2

    Desdemonadespair.net - Environment
    10.07 / 19:47 desdemonadespair.net
    14 September 2017 (Scripps) – A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios has led to the creation of the new risk categories “catastrophic” and “unknown” to characterize the range of threats posed by rapid global warming. Researchers propose that unknown risks imply existential threats to the survival of humanity.These categories describe two low-probability but statistically significant scenarios that could play out by century’s end, in a new study by Veerabhadran Ramanathan…
  4. I’m a woman who fought wildfires for 7 years. Climate change is absolutely making them worse. Warmer climate is creating

    Desdemonadespair.net - Environment
    10.07 / 19:47 desdemonadespair.net
    By Anastasia Selby  14 September 2017(Vox) – The mundane days all run together. But those days when I was genuinely unsure if I would make it to the end of my shift intact are the ones that stand out.I remember fighting a fire on the Angeles National Forest in 2002. Our crew flew onto a ridge in a helicopter. The rotor wash, or wind created by the helicopter blades, flung orange embers into the unburned vegetation — the “green.” Immediately, it started burning.We jumped out of the heli…
  5. Health advocates threaten lawsuit against firm importing asbestos to U.S. [The Pump Handle]

    Scienceblogs.com - Environment
    10.07 / 19:31 scienceblogs.com
    OxyChem imports about 300,000 pounds of asbestos annually. Health groups allege the company failed to report to EPA their significant use of…
  6. Live Updates: Follow PETA’s On-Site Work Saving Terrified Animals in Puerto Rico

    Peta.org - Environment
    10.07 / 19:11 peta.org
    Just weeks after Hurricane Irma crippled islands throughout the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico—and PETA is on the ground, helping to save animals. The post Live Updates: Follow PETA’s On-Site Work Saving Terrified Animals in Puerto Rico appeared first on PET…
  7. Brazil government reduces forest protections in Pará, rewards squatters for illegal occupation

    Desdemonadespair.net - Environment
    10.07 / 17:19 desdemonadespair.net
    By Cleide Carvalho25 September 2017 SÃO PAULO (O Globo) – [Translation by Google] The government bill that reduces the National Forest (Flona) of Jamanxim, in Pará, should benefit grileiros who deforested and occupied at least 44 thousand hectares of land that should be protected. The area - larger than the city of Curitiba and home to 1.8 million people - was cleared over a period of eight years between 2008 and 2016. The project is designed to regularize the situation of former squatters …
  8. A year after Hurricane Matthew, Haiti’s children still incredibly vulnerable to disasters – UNICEF

    Desdemonadespair.net - Environment
    10.07 / 17:19 desdemonadespair.net
    5 October 2017 (United Nations) – One year has passed since Hurricane Matthew made landfall in southwest Haiti – leaving terrible destruction in its wake – but children and adolescents on the island still remain highly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters and extreme weather events, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned.“Hundreds of thousands of children had their lives turned upside down by Hurricane Matthew,” said Marc Vincent, the head of the UNICEF country off…
  9. Weather extremes, fossil fuel pollution cost US $240 billion – “The evidence is undeniable: the more fossil fuels we bur

    Desdemonadespair.net - Environment
    10.07 / 16:46 desdemonadespair.net
    By Alister Doyle27 September 2017OSLO (Reuters) – Weather extremes and air pollution from burning fossil fuels cost the United States $240 billion a year in the past decade, according to a report [pdf] on Wednesday that urged President Donald Trump to do more to combat climate change.This year is likely to be the most expensive on record with an estimated $300 billion in losses from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and a spate of wildfires in western states in the past two months, it s…
  10. As oceans warm, whales face new dangers – “We haven’t seen this level of mortality in right whales since we stopped whal

    Desdemonadespair.net - Environment
    10.07 / 16:46 desdemonadespair.net
    By Karen Weintraub2 October 2017MOUNT DESERT ROCK, Maine (The New York Times) – From the top of the six-story lighthouse, water stretches beyond the horizon in every direction. A foghorn bleats twice at 22-second intervals, interrupting the endless chatter of herring gulls.At least twice a day, beginning shortly after dawn, researchers climb steps and ladders and crawl through a modest glass doorway to scan the surrounding sea, looking for the distinctive spout of a whale.This chunk of r…
  11. Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center Community Programs

    Bctv.org - Environment
    10.07 / 12:39 bctv.org
    Please click to enlarge the image below to see the Nolde Forest EEC November & December Community Programs attached.  Program fliers available at the …
  12. Advocates to EPA: Do Your Job or We'll Sue

    Bctv.org - Environment
    10.07 / 12:39 bctv.org
    HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A coalition of environmental and health groups has put the Environmental Protection Agency on notice that it needs to implement more protective clean air standards…
  13. VIDEO: An encounter with Norwegian wolves

    Speisa.com - Environment
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    In this video, the BBC has traveled to Norway to meet a pack of…
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    Scienceblogs.com - Environment
    10.07 / 05:15 scienceblogs.com
    And now for something completely different: a man with a stoat through his head. Nonono, not that. Instead, a thing from the garden: It is, or so I understand, a truffle. Or rather two. I found them while mowing the front lawn on Sunday. This was somewhat unexpected. And indeed, I might not even…
  15. Texas Tech Event to Tackle the Ethics of Using Animals

    Peta.org - Environment
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    As part of a national speaking tour that has already landed at Harvard, Columbia, and Cornell universities, Hanh Nguyen of peta2, PETA’s youth division, will present a lecture at ... The post Texas Tech Event to Tackle the Ethics of Using Animals appeared first on…
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    Peta.org - Environment
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    As part of a national speaking tour that has already landed at Harvard, Columbia, and Cornell universities, Hanh Nguyen of peta2, PETA’s youth division, will present a lecture at ... The post UNT Event to Tackle the Ethics of Using Animals appeared first on…
  17. Urgent! Cruel and Criminal to Willfully Abandon Animals During Tropical Storm

    Peta.org - Environment
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    With Tropical Storm Nate expected to make landfall late Saturday night into Sunday morning as a hurricane, animals will die badly if abandoned during any evacuations that may occur. ... The post Urgent! Cruel and Criminal to Willfully Abandon Animals During Tropical Storm appeared first on…
  18. Dade City’s Wild Things Faces Lawsuit Over Fraudulent Fundraising

    Peta.org - Environment
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    Peta.org - Environment
    10.07 / 05:06 peta.org
    After a PETA complaint, state authorities have filed suit to shut down the roadside zoo's fundraising efforts. The post Dade City’s Wild Things Faces Lawsuit Over Fraudulent Fundraising appeared first on…
  20. 4 Ways Companies Are Helping the Environment

    Greenlivingguy.com - Environment
    10.07 / 05:06 greenlivingguy.com
    Many of the world’s top organizations are investing billions of dollars into environmentally sound processes and procedures. The consumer climate has changed, and customers are switching to green products. Buyers are paying closer attention to what they purchase and how… Read More 4 Ways Companies Are Helping…