Watermelon snow is one of nature's peculiarities. Scientists don't fully understand it, or the long-term impact it could have on the environment.
Here's one thing they do know: Watermelon may look neat but it's not something conservationists want to see.
According to a study in Nature Communications, red algae can reduce a snow's albedo -- i.e., the ability to reflect light -- by up to 13 per cent. That means the snow absorbs more of the sun's energy and melts faster.
Couple that with a stint of above-seasonal temperatures and you've got a recipe for accelerated melting.
Dr. Robin Kodner, an assistant professor of biology at Western Washington University, is at the forefront of watermelon snow research. She's started giving out kits to citizen scientists who want to document and record the phenomenon, which shows up at seemingly random times.