• Cultural

Conférence : Science Sandwich du CREA Mont-Blanc

Snow algae and the microscopic world of snow: a presentation by Eric Maréchal, CNRS researcher, director of the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire et Végétale and coordinator of the Alpalga research project (www.alpalga.fr).

Cultural Conférence : Science Sandwich du CREA Mont-Blanc Les Houches


On Tuesday 18 June 2024 from 12:30:00 in 13:30:00
Les Houches (74310)

In spring, névés (large areas of melting snow) are frequently dotted with bright red patches. This phenomenon, familiar to hikers, is often confused with the ochre coloration caused by sands carried by Saharan winds. In fact, it's the manifestation of a microscopic living world, mainly made up of microalgae, which populates the snowfields, proliferating to the point of changing the color of the snow. This "blood of the glaciers" has been described since ancient times. The microalgae that dominate this microbial ecosystem were first observed under the microscope by Horace Bénédict de Saussure, from a sample collected in 1760 on Mont Brévent. Although red snows have been documented in this way for centuries, the species that inhabit them are only just beginning to be studied in depth.

At the next #ScienceSandwich, Eric Maréchal, Director of the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire et Végétale, will describe how the ALPALGA consortium, bringing together biologists, ecologists, physicists and snow experts from the University of Grenoble, are tackling this phenomenon. The studies carried out today reveal the existence of a little-known world from mountain peaks to the polar regions. It's possible to begin to understand what it means to 'live in the snow'. Snow forms a complete ecosystem, probably inherited from the last ice ages, which we are just beginning to decipher, even though it is being weakened in many regions by climate change.


Free of charge.


Languages spoken : French


Tuesday 18 June 2024 between 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm.


Espace Animation 27 pl de la Mairie 74310 Les Houches

Nearest bus stop: Les Houches Mairie
Nearest train stop: Les Houches train station
Nearest car park: Freney or Mairie

  • Accessible for self-propelled wheelchairs
Information update on 05/06/2024 by Office de Tourisme de la Vallée de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc