According to researcher Biagio Di Mauro, from the Institute of Polar Sciences at the Italian National Research Council, the snow on the Presena Glacier in northern Italy is changing colour and turning pink.
This colour change is arguably a result of the algae Chlamydomonas nivalis, which appears in snowy landscapes during the Spring and Summer months when the snow is at its lowest levels. According to scientist Di Mauro, this ecosystem “creates the perfect environment for algae to grow”.
However, the presence of these algae is detrimental for the glacier since it accelerates the disappearance of snow and ice. By changing from a lighter to a darker colour, it absorbs more energy and melts the snow faster. The phenomenon happened on the Morteratsch glacier in Sweden, where other algae turned the snow purple.
This is not only occurring in Italy but across the entire globe as climate change is quickly melting the ice caps. In October, an investigation highlighted that Swedish glaciers had shrunk by 10% in the past five years.