Friday, July 15, 2016

Pretty Pink Arctic Snow Also Means Trouble

The algae in this Arctic snow turns the ice into a pretty
 watermelon pink, but it's actually more bad news in terms
of global warming. 
Some snow and ice in the Arctic has turned a very pretty watermelon pink color.

Very photogenic, but it also spells potential trouble.

The pink is caused by a green algae that turns red.  The pink color obviously means the snow is no longer white.

White is the best color you can get if you want to reflect the sun's heat back to outer space and that's what Arctic snow and ice does.  It's an air conditioner for the world.

If the snow is off color - in this case pink -- it will absorb more sun and heat. And therefore melt faster. Which is bad news because the Arctic has already been melting too fast lately.

Now, this pigmentation from algae has always happened in the Arctic. But now it's happening earlier in the season, That means the melt starts sooner on the snow and ice. It's a case of warmer temperatures creating a positive feedback that results in even more warming.

It seems like every time we turn around we get more bad news about Arctic melting. Just this week, the temperature reached 85 degrees in Deadhorse, Alaska, just 10 miles from the Arctic Circle. That's the hottest on record it's been in Alaska for locations within 50 miles of the Arctic Circle.

Meanwhile, a lot of climate watchers have been monitoring the sea ice extent in the Arctic this summer as it melts fast.

It's still going at a near record pace, so far pretty much tied with 2012 with the most extensive melt on record. As I've said earlier, whether this year sets a new record depends upon weather conditions in the Arctic the rest of the summer.

We'll see if things somehow turn around.

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