Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Roman Dial

“Watermelon snow” on glaciers: sustaining life in colour

Glacier surfaces around the world often host active communities of specialized organisms, including annelids in Alaska , insects in the Himalayas, and rotifers in Iceland. But these organisms, like all life, need liquid water in order to survive. The most strikingly visible signs of life on glaciers come from the microbes responsible for “watermelon-snow” – so-called both for its colour, and its smell.

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