Effects of microalgal blooms on Sierra Nevada snow albedo

TitleEffects of microalgal blooms on Sierra Nevada snow albedo
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1996
AuthorsThomas, W. H., and Duval Brian
Conference Name64th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 64th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1996
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationBend, Oregon
KeywordsAlbedo, Algae, Red snow

Initial (1993) investigations of snow albedo and snow color (caused by algae) in the Sierra Nevada of California showed that albedo was reduced in red snow patches as compared with that in white snow patches. In May-June, 1994, extensive concurrent measurements of snow albedo, snow algae numbers, and snow water content were made in the Tioga Pass area (upper Lee Vining Creek watershed) of the range. Statistically significant negative correlations were found between albedo and algal cell numbers and water content. However, red snow did not decrease mean albedos in large representative snowfields that contained algae. This was due to the patchiness of the algae, and mean albedos probably would not decrease because of algae over the whole Lee Vining Creek watershed. Thus water supply from melting snow would not be affected by the presence of algae. Especially in the early algal season, dirt, as well as algae, contributed to decreases in albedo.