There’s a type of snow called watermelon snow that slightly smells like watermelon!
1. Watermelon snow has many names including snow algae, red snow, or blood snow. It is characterized by reddish to pink colored snow with a slight smell of fresh watermelon.
2. Mystery of Red Snow
The surface of the Himalayas above 5,000 meters often dots with blood red spots and looks like red snow from afar. These red spots consist of Chlamydomonas nivalis, Chlorococcum infusionum, and other algae. In permanent ice and snow, the highland algae are widely distributed with strong cold resistance and does not die when the temperature is 36 degrees below zero celsius. The algae contain sanguine pigment in their bodies, so they are red in appearance.
Hoax or Fact:
The messages talk about a type of snow which is red in color, calling it watermelon snow as it smells the same. It is a fact.
This reddish-colored snow has been a fascinating and mysterious phenomenon for thousands of years, puzzling many mountain climbers, explorers and naturalists until the late 19th Century, when the reason behind it was found out. Interestingly, the first writings about this watermelon snow was from Aristotle.
Watermelon snow, also called pink snow, blood snow or red snow, is a snow that is pink or reddish in color, having the aroma of a fresh watermelon. The reddish color and the scent of watermelon is mainly due to the presence of Chlamydomonas nivalis, a species of green algae that along with the green pigment chlorophyll also has a secondary red carotenoid pigment called astaxanthin. This secondary pigment protects the chloroplast of the algae from intense heat, visible and ultraviolet radiations, providing the algae with liquid water as the snow around it melts. Unlike other fresh-water algae, Chlamydomonas nivalis is cold-loving (cryophilic) and grows rich in freezing water, sometimes up to 10 inches deep into the snow. For this reason, watermelon snow is also called snow algae.
Snow algae generally occurs during the summer times, in regions of alpine and coastal polar worldwide, like that of Sierra Nevada in California and Himalayas in India. In these places, at high altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet, the temperature remains cold throughout the year, providing breeding conditions for snow algae. When the snow is compressed by stepping on it or making snowballs out of it, it will leave it looking red, looking like blood. And if you walk on this watermelon snow, it often makes your shoe soles bright red and pant cuffs pinkish. The video right below briefly explains this phenomenon of watermelon snow.
Some people, mainly the local ones eat this snow algae sometimes, because of its watermelon scent and taste. However, reports say that eating more of this pink snow can lead to pink diarrhea and other digestive problems. But interestingly, many organisms like ice worms, snow fleas, roundworms and protozoans regularly feed on this snow algae, considering it as a delicacy.