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Eerily Stunning Photos of Highly Dangerous, Flammable Ice Bubbles

Sometimes the most quietly beautiful things can be the most dangerous — like methane bubbles disguised as gorgeous winter gems suspended in time.


Sometimes the most quietly beautiful things can be the most dangerous. That's the case with the flammable ice-covered methane bubbles trapped under Alberta's Lake Abraham.

 

To the unknowing eye, the frozen bubbles look like harmless, gorgeous winter gems suspended in time.

 

Once you know how dangerous those ice bubbles can be, though, the photos become a little more eerie.

 

The white dots are actually frozen methane bubbles. They start to form when the bacteria at the bottom of the lake eats the debris that has fallen into the lake from land, like dead critters or leaves. After their snack, they poop out methane, which starts to rise to the top of the lake.

 

Once it nears the top of the frozen lake, it, too, freezes, forming the chilling white blobs in the photo.

 

Frozen and underwater, the bubbles don't pose a threat. But methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that could cause serious harm if someone were to fall in, crack the ice and release it.

 

And if you light a match near those flammable bubbles? Well, let's just say you might want to have the local fire station on speed dial.

 

Despite the dangers, the Canadian lake has become a tourist destination.

 

It's especially popular among nature photographers who want to capture the otherworldly beauty of the frozen methane bubbles.

 

While some of the most striking photos may come from there, though, it's unfortunately not the only place these methane bubbles are forming. Climate change is causing layers of permafrost in the Arctic to melt.

Many scientists are worried that melting could defrost organic material that could lead to methane and other greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide being released. Scientists are trying to get a better idea of how much that could accelerate climate change.

 

Better get up to Canada and capture some #methanebubbles before the greenhouse gases get us all.

 

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Illustration by Fabio Manucci

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