Scientists know that the ice sheet surrounding Greenland has a mysterious dark zone, but so far they couldn’t figure out what caused it, despite the fact that the zone has become darker as years passed. Now, researchers can reveal what’s behind this strange phenomenon.
The unusual zone is a strip of ice that melts very fast. It is situated on the western side of the ice sheet. It measures 248 miles in length and 62 miles at wide. Here, the ice melts faster because the area absorbs more energy.
Before they discovered this, there were theories connecting the dark zone with the presence of water on top of the ice sheet. New evidence state that darkening is caused by impurities like carbon and algae that float around the ice. This information was published recently by scientists from Norway’s Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate.
The conclusions were obtained from images captured with a drone. The team found a coating of dust and other impurities in the dark zone and realized that these particles can be the result of activities from faraway factories and fires. Next to them, the dark zone also includes dark-colored algae that are capable to survive in Greenland’s harsh environment.
What are the Ice Algae
In order to survive, Algae need nutrients and food, dust, water and organic carbon. This Algae can live thanks to a layer of dust evenly distributed around the ice and black carbon which nurtures the dark-coloured Algae.
Also, a slight increase in the air temperature and the production of liquid water seem to support the survival and development of Algae colonies that can be seen across Greenland’s ice sheet.
As it has been mentioned, researchers think that the impurities from Greenland’s dark zone are the result of dust, ice Algae and black carbon. The most important information connected to this zone is that it speeds up the melting and the process has a negative impact on the environment.