Watermelon Snow Sightings

A citizen science project to map snow algae in the Pacific Northwest


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Last on:
30 May 2018

At a glance, snow may appear to be devoid of life, but it is in fact teeming with microscopic cells. We only notice in the summer months, when blooms of microscopic single-celled algae color the snow a pinkish red. Also known as watermelon snow, these algae form vast expanses of red snow across arctic and alpine regions of our globe. The algae support a diverse ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and ciliates –many of which are unnamed species new to science. These microbes darken the snow and absorb more solar energy, thus speeding snow melt and adding a positive feedback loop to global warming. For more information, please visit: http://quarmby.ca/watermelonsnow/