Ordinarily, the bright, white surface of glacial ice found in ice sheets such as the ones that cover Greenland and Antarctica serve to function as reflectors that bounce a certain amount of solar radiation back into space -- this effect also helps prevent the ice from being directly warmed too much by the sun. The effect of the ice's reflectiveness, or albedo, can be compromised by changes in its color, for instance by soot being deposited on the surface from large wildfires ravaging a different part of the globe. The darkening of the ice causes it to absorb more sunlight, and in turn this increases the temperature of the ice, hastening its rate of melt. Now, a new factor has been identified that can darken the albedo of Greenland's ice: the spread of simple algae.
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