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Name: Marie Z.
Status: educator
Age: 50s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 12/10/2002


Question:
I wanted to find out about colored snow. I found a site on 'Watermelon Snow" but can't find info on the other colors of snow and their causes. Can you help me out? I am using it to make a bulletin board about "People Are Like Snow"


Replies:
Marie,

Red algae in snow is a common phenomena on high mountains throughout the world, particularly in Spring, when there is meltwater in the snow pack that the algae need. I looked up the Watermelon Snow site that you visited and it gives lots of great information on it!

Snow can be colored by other things. For instance, snow can be brownish when soil/sand is mixed in. It is not too unusual for sandstorms over the Sahara to lift soil into the air, where the atmospheric winds transport it long distances to, for instance, southern Europe, where it is combined with snow to produce brown or reddish snow.

Of course snow can also be colored by sand/soil or other atmospheric aerosols or soot falling on snow already on the ground. I can imagine that many cities once had grey snow as soot from coal and wood burning fell on the snow.

I do not know of any other natural colors of snow.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory


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