Over the course of the last few weeks, the ice around Ukraine's Vernadsky Research Base (located on Galindez Island, off the coast of Antarctica's northernmost peninsula) has become coated in what scientists are calling 'Rasberry snow'. They uploaded a Facebook post and the pictures show bright pink and red slashing on the ice.
According to reports, the red that can be seen in the pictures covering the snow is a type of red-pigmented algae that is called Chlamydomonas nivalis. This form of algae is found in snowfields and mountains worldwide and they thrive in freezing water. During the winters, the algae remain dormant but once summer rolls around they bloom, spreading red, flower-like spores.
This phenomenon is not new and was discovered by Aristotle in third century B.C. The phenomenon over the years has been given several poetic names such as 'watermelon snow' or 'blood snow'. The red colour in the algae comes from carotenoids that are present in the algae's chloroplasts.
While the algae look pretty it's not very great for the ice. As per reports, the red-crimson colour of the raspberry means that the snow reflects less sunlight and therefore melts much faster. And the faster the ice melts, the more algae blooms and they, in turn, make the ice melt faster. This is a vicious cycle that can contribute to climate change.
This cycle is also present in the world's oceans, similar processes cause algae to bloom in oceans all over the world. This has led to events like an invasion of seafoam in Spain and blue, bioluminescent "tears" clinging to China's coasts.
According to reports, the waters of Taiwan's Matsu Islands cast an eerie blue glow on summers. This phenomenon is called China's 'blue tears' and is caused by the bloom of tiny, bioluminescent creatures called dinoflagellates. While this bloom attracts a lot of tourists from all over China but the blue glow is also highly toxic and grows every year.