The amount of ice around the globe is decreasing rapidly. Most of this melt is due to the warming climate, but other factors are also involved. One of these is algae blooms in the ice. Pigmented algae reduce the ice’s albedo - surface reflectivity - and thus allow the ice to absorb more solar energy, increasing melting.

A research group led by Trinity Hamilton (associate professor, Plant and Microbial Biology; MSI PI) is working on a project to study snow algal systems in order to learn about how they affect and are affected by their ecosystems. The researchers have sequenced metagenomes from samples retrieved from snow in Grand Teton National Park, the Beartooth Pass in Wyoming, and the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest. Their next step is to annotate and analyze the eukaryotic sequences in the datasets. As this is challenging, the group is working with members of MSI’s Research Informatics Systems to install new tools and analyze the data. This project recently received a UMII Seed Grant.

Research Computing partners:

  • University of Minnesota Informatics Institute
  • Minnesota Supercomputing Institute

Image description: Algae samples from a bloom found in snow in the Beartooth Mountains, WY in August 2019.

bags with pink algae samples lying on snow