Red Snow and Snowboarder

July 25, 2006


Provided by: Mik Sawicki, U. of Colorado
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster; Mik Sawicki

The photo above showing a snowboader navigating his way through red tinted snow was taken on June 17, 2006, during a hike in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, west of Boulder, Colorado. Note the rock formation in the background. It seems that the snowboarder is blissfully unaware that he has attracted the attention of the menacing monster standing guard over its brood. The reddish coloration of the snow, sometimes referred to as watermelon snow, results from the presence of algae. These algae (Chlamydomonas nivalis) contain a bright red carotenoid pigment in addition to chlorophyll. When the algae bloom on the snow-covered peaks, it's like Christmas in July.

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