The Red and Green Snow of the Antarctic Peninsula

The Antarctic Peninsula is the part of the continent that juts out the furthest to the north, toward Argentina. It is almost midsummer there now, and the snow is beginning to bloom a festive red and green. But those colors aren't for Christmas, and they aren't good news. The colors indicate the presence of a type of green algae that sometimes contains a red pigment. In order for the algae to thrive, temperatures have to be slightly above freezing, so that snow and ice is a watery slush. The algae bloom is occurring over a wider area every year, and affecting areas further south. meaning inland.

By some measures, average annual temperatures in Antarctica have risen by almost 3°C (5.4°F) since 1800, making it one of the areas most affected by climate change. While rising temperatures contribute to conditions that lead to algae bloom, the bloom itself is contributing to warmer temperatures. While the red and green snow may be pretty, it signals changes in the ecosystem that we may not be prepared for. Read about Antarctica's red and green snow at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Jerzy Strzelecki)

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