Scott Hotaling, an assistant professor in the Department of Watershed Sciences at Quinney College of Natural Resources, is studying how the watermelon-colored blooms of snow algae affect snowpack in mountains — where they come from, what triggers a bloom, and what factors affect size, extent, and extent of snow algae blooms.
Intensely luminous and brilliantly white, freshly fallen snow is typically the most reflective natural surface on Earth. A clean snowpack reflects most of the sun’s energy, allowing the snowpack to last longer into the spring and summer seasons.
But western snowpack has taken a hit in recent decades. They lose their reflectivity when airborne dust settles on their surface or when dark red flowers of snow algae grow and absorb solar energy. These blackout agents change how snow accumulates, holds, and melts each season, impacting hydropower, biodiversity, irrigation, and drinking water.
Provided by Utah State University
Citation: Snow algae: Investigating how algal blooms impact mountain snowpack (2023, February 14), retrieved February 14, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-02-algae-algal-blooms-impact-mountain. html
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