Black and Bloom

Snow is melting slowly

A text from the field team’s satellite phone says that the snow is starting to melt slowly. The snowmelt chemist in me is very excited now, because melting and freezing cycles tend to concentrate all the nutrient in the surface snow into a band of fertiliser, and a slow melt means that as this layer melts and soaks down into the snow, it gets much more concentrated as it dissolves (or leaches) more nutrient from the underlying snowpack. Why should anyone care about this? It means that there is the most fertiliser there can be for the awakening snow and ice algae to use as they are bathed awake by the snowmelt. I can’t wait to see the snow and melt chemistry data that Alex Holland will have when she comes back, and I can’t wait to see if the ice algae really are bathed awake by the snowmelt.

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