In Italy, the Presena glacier is turning pink due to algae, and this will make the ice melt even faster. Blagio di Mauro from the Institute of Polar Sciences at Italy’s National Research Council told CNN that pink snow has appeared on the glacier. It’s sometimes known as watermelon snow and is fairly common in the Alps during the spring and summer. However, it’s been more present this year.
Di Mauro believes that the alga named Chlamydomonas nivalis is the culprit that changed the color of the snow. He explained to CNN that this spring and summer saw low snowfall and high atmospheric temperatures. “This creates the perfect environment for the algae to grow,” he said. This bodes ill for the health of the glacier because darker snow absorbs more energy and this makes it melt faster. “It is sure bad for the glacier,” Di Mauro said.
He also told Science Alert, “Everything that darkens the snow causes it to melt because it accelerates the absorption of radiation. We are trying to quantify the effect of other phenomena besides the human one on the overheating of the Earth.”
Di Mauro has also studied the Morteratsch glacier in Switzerland where an alga turned the ice purple. It’s also been found in Greenland, the Andes, and the Himalayas. Just last year, record melting in the Swiss alps saw glaciers shrink 10% in five years, which is a rate that hasn’t been seen before in a century of observations. Last summer’s heatwave was the source of these record-breaking glacier melts, and 2020 has already proven to be even hotter. We’ve had heatwaves in Antarctica in which temperatures reached the 70s, and this summer, it’s sometimes been hotter in the Arctic than it has been in south Louisiana!
We are in a relentless Arctic #heatwave – Siberia is literally on fire right now and it's set to continue.
Temperatures will comfortably exceed + 30 °C within the Arctic Circle over the next 10 days at least. It is a staggering + 20-25 °C warmer than it should be…
— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) June 19, 2020
Last month, the town of Verkhoyansk in Russia, which is known for its brutally cold winters and for being one of the coldest towns on earth, experienced 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The average high for Verkhoyansk in June is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Louisiana is well known for extreme heat and humidity; however, in June, the highest it got for the entire month was 93 degrees. So, it was hotter in one of the coldest towns on earth than it was in Baton Rouge in parts of June. Let that sink in for a moment.
2020 Hottest Year On Record?
Back in February, the New York Times noted that 2020 is “virtually certain to be among the 10 warmest years on record.” In an interview with Karin Gleason, a climatologist with the National Centers for Environmental Information, she told the New York Times that these predictions followed the warmest ever January on record. “According to our probability statistics, it’s virtually certain that 2020 will rank among the top 10 years on record,” she said.
Just watch this until the end.
Heat in the Arctic is having a profound impact on sea ice melt and this opens the door for runaway warming. This is an animation showing how much warmer (🔴) or cooler (🔵) the sea surface is compared to normal.
It is a brutal feedback system… pic.twitter.com/ynw3Aae621
— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) July 7, 2020
The worrying thing about all this heat in 2020 is that June was one of the least impressive months so far.
The world only noticed when the Arctic heat record was broken and the wildfires started burning. It has been super warm (relatively speaking) for months. pic.twitter.com/GJXgxuHbym
— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) July 6, 2020
I think this speaks for itself.
Pay attention to the colour scale. The golds emerging from the hot red colours indicate temperatures around + 20 °C warmer than normal.
Yes, there are some cold blobs. These are locally significant but can't compete with the alarming warmth. pic.twitter.com/M7l6TPQPzN
— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) July 5, 2020
CBS News noted that even though people were distracted by the coronavirus, climate change is still escalating. “In fact, it’s becoming more and more likely that 2020 will be the hottest year globally since records have been kept,” the article said. NASA, NOAA, Berkeley Earth, and Copernicus reviewed May’s temperatures and all four said that May was the warmest May on record worldwide. NOAA even reported that May 2020 was tied with May 2016.
Both NASA and the NOAA have shown that the the hottest decade ever recorded was the 2010s. Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Gavin Schmidt, said that every decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the previous decade, and not by a small amount.
Scientific American reported that 2020 is almost certain to be in the top 5 warmest years on record, and 2019 was the second warmest since record-keeping started in 1880. These warm temperatures are “in part due to human-caused climate change.”
The pink glacier is just another red flag that much of humanity is refusing to acknowledge. In an article by Science Alert, tourists observing the pink glacier in Italy explained just how dire this is: “Overheating of the planet is a problem, the last thing we needed was algae. Unfortunately, we are doing irreversible damage. We are already at the point of no return, I think,” Marta Durante said.
Elisa Pongini felt as if the Earth was “giving us back everything we have done to it. 2020 is a special year: terrible things have happened. In my opinion, atmospheric phenomena are worsening. Climate change is increasingly evident.”
Featured image screenshot by Scott from Scotland