Why would Snow-growing Algae be killing Glaciers?

24/06/2016 - 3 minutes

Red Algae bloom on glaciers during summer, which may give the snow more than a nice pink shade. The darker color makes the glacier melt faster – a previously overlooked mechanism in climate change.

gfz_helmoltz_potsdam_bioalbedo_algaeIn biotech, algae almost became synonymous with unlimited potential, including as a promising new generation of biofuels – so they should be pretty environment-friendly, right?

Not always, it seems. One of the characteristics that make algae a biotech star is they can produce carotenoids, chemicals that give them a reddish color and are sought-after in medicine and other applications. However, this is also how they are contributing to climate change – and with much more impact than previously thought, say researchers from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, University of Leeds, University of Bristol and Aberystwyth University.

The team of researchers took off to the Pan-European Arctic to study glacial microbiology. Exploring the microbes present in remote environments (such as deserts) is often done for ‘biodiversity mining‘

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