Vail: Pink snow and the albedo effect

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From the Vail Daily (Sarah Mausolf):

There were at least 10 times last year when dust mixed with the snow, including two noticeable incidents when the snow took on a light pink tint, Macdonald said. In one case, the pink hue could be spotted on the mountain even after normal white snow fell later on. “When you skied a run, you turned and your tracks were pink,” Macdonald said. That pink color is what experts call “dust on snow” — a mysterious and in some ways irksome phenomenon that speeds up the snow’s melting process in the spring.

The dust originates in the Colorado Plateau, which sprawls across southwestern Colorado and parts of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, said Chris Landry, executive director of the Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies in Silverton. Those wind storms carry the dust into the Colorado mountains, where it mixes with snow…

The dust absorbs sunlight, causing snow to melt sooner than it normally would, Macdonald said. Dust can cause the snow to melt up to 50 days earlier, one study of southern Colorado’s Red Mountain Pass showed last year, Landry said.

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