Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science have posted on Facebook a research station off the coast of Antarctica’s northernmost peninsula island is covered in “blood snow.”
Though the scene is not pleasant, but don’t worry it’s not a seal hunt went wrong, rather it’s cause of an astonishing red-pigment, microscopic algae called Chlamydomonas nivalis. This algae thrives in freezing temperatures and when the ice melts during the record-breaking warm summer of Antarctica, the snow turns blood red.
In the polar regions when the algae blooms, it stains the snow and ice red resembling blood. This phenomenon was first noticed by Aristotle thousands of years ago. This phenomenon is referred to as “watermelon snow” as the scent is subtle sweet and red like watermelon.
The reason the blooming algae turns red is the work of the same stuff that gives watermelons and carrots their color- carotenoids. Yes, this is actually a natural phenomenon with a rather nasty feedback loop- the ice melts rather fast. The red color reflects less sunlight off the snow, cause for fast melting of the snow according to the Ukrainian team. This acceleration further melts enabling more algae to grow thus, completing the cycle.
Matter of fact, this is not the only surreal experience seen in the world thanks to a feedback loop. Once in January, blooming algae was the cause of sea foam swallowing up the coast of Spanish Town. Similar algae blooms were seen on the shores of the East China Sea that turned the sea to glow.