Citizen scientists track effects of climate change in the Northwest

Monday, August 7, 2017 - 10:10am
The Seattle Times

Meanwhile, on the snow-covered slopes of the North Cascades, skiers and climbers have been patrolling for “watermelon snow,” or sections that look as if they’ve been dusted with red Kool-Aid powder.

It’s actually snow algae blooming on or beneath the surface, which can contribute to melt and glacier loss because it changes how sunlight reflects off snow and ice.

Surprisingly little is known about the algae, said Robin Kodner, a professor at Western Washington University studying the phenomenon with students in her lab.

“We do not know anything about dispersal. We don’t know how snow algae get there or how they spread,” Kodner said. “One of the goals of my project is to understand when and where the algae are blooming in the North Cascades.”