What is pink snow? Researchers work to answer your pink snow questions

On a sunny, cool day in the North Cascades, researchers hiked around an alpine lake to find samples of algae that look like pink-colored snow. Recent days had brought a fresh coat of actual snow -- and they used shovels and boots to brush aside the top layer, revealing light red underneath.

"I'm just moving aside the snow that gathered the last two days," said Robin Kodner, PhD., a professor with Western Washington University who has been studying the algae for years, as she uncovered a patch of "pink snow."

Kodner said there has been renewed research interest in snow algae because of its connection to glacier melt, which is of greater concern as the climate warms. At this point, Kodner said it is too early to make any assessments about snow algae's potential contributions to climate change or how it could be affected by warming, but the data being collected by a program called the Living Snow Project could help answer those questions.