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This glacier in the Alps turned pink with 'watermelon snow'—here's what a scientist says is happening

Researcher Biagio Di Mauro takes samples of pink snow on the Presena glacier in Italy.
Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

You may have heard of pink sand beaches, but what about "pink snow"?

On Thursday, a local scientist discovered a glacier in the Italian Alps is covered in pink snow. The effect, also known as "watermelon snow," is due to the presence of algae. 

Though pink snow is actually common in the Alps in the summer (and has been spotted in various locations around the world), researcher Biagio Di Mauro said the color of this cache is even more intense than usual. 

"There was quite an impressive bloom of snow algae," Di Mauro, of the Institute of Polar Sciences at Italy's National Research Council, told CNN about his visit to the Presena glacier.

This season's low snowfall and high atmospheric temperatures "creates the perfect environment for the algae to grow," he told CNN, and the presence of hikers and ski lifts may also have had an impact on the algae growth, he told The Guardian.

And though the effect may be beautiful to look at, "it is for sure bad for the glacier," Di Mauro told CNN, as darker snow absorbs more heat and therefore melts faster. 

While Di Mauro is still testing the pink snow, he believes the algae responsible is a snow algae called Chlamydomonas nivalis.

Researcher Biagio Di Mauro takes samples of pink colored snow on the top of the Presena glacier in Italy.
Miguel MEDINA / AFP via Getty Images

In May, researchers linked green snow glaciers in Antarctica to an increase in algae.

Here are aerial shots of pink snow on Presena glacier taken on July 3.

Presena glacier with pink-colored snow
Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP via Getty Images
Presena glacier near Pellizzano, Italy, covered in pink-colored snow, an affect that is due to the presence of algae
Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

Di Mauro tweeted that the relationship between the algae and climate change "has yet to be proven."

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