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Cryconite

Cryoconite is powdery windblown dust made of a combination of small rock particles, soot and bacteria, fulling melt-holes on glacial ice surface (cryoconite holes). As the cryoconite absorbs solar radiation and promotest ice melting beneath it, the cylindrical  holes are formed. Components of cryconites are:

  • terrestrial mineral particles – quartz, feldspar, mica, calcite, clay minerals
  • anthropogenic pollutants (soot)
  • microbes and organic matter (algae, cyanobacteria, humic substances)

The holes can also harbour dormant seeds flown in from far away and invertebrates (like tardigrades).

Cryoconites create a positive feedback mechanism and are a significant contributor to glacial surface melt.

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