The universe is colossal and majestic in its own way, filled with millions of undiscovered spectacular event and phenomena. While it might take years to discover them with advanced technologies, there are many discovered phenomena or events occurring on our planet that resembles the events taking place in outer space.
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One of the most breathtaking views found on our planet is the frozen methane bubbles, which is found under Alberta’s Abraham lake, it is an artificial lake in northern Saskatchewan in western Alberta located in Canada. It’s about three hours away from Calgary or Edmonton. These bubbles are also formed in other regions of the arctic. This lake is a popular destination for photographers.
These bubbles are really just frozen pockets of methane (CH4). They are formed in mid-winter, while during early winter the methane gas is being formed. The bacteria/ Microbes feeds on the dead plants and animals decaying and releasing methane gases, the plants also contribute to the release of methane gases present under the lake, thousands of bubbles make their way from depths to the surface and are trapped under the frozen lake, resulting in an incredible view.
Its turquoise-coloured waters further the appeal. Like the bubbles, there’s a scientific explanation for the lake’s milky blue hue as well. Similar to other lakes in the area, Abraham Lake is filled with fine-grained glacial silt that has been deposited from the surrounding glaciers. That mineral content is what gives the water its vivid colour adding to its phenomenal beauty and making it worthy of an eyeful.
It doesn’t just add beauty to the lake or offer an impressive sight for the tourists and photographers, it also adds to the escalating crisis of climate change. While it could remain harmless in its frozen state when the lake thaws these gases are released into the air adding to the harmful gases present in the atmosphere. The Lake thaws each spring, the bubbles release a burst of methane gas into the air. Methane, a greenhouse gas, if released, could potentially increase the amount of infrared light absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, and so increase the average temperature of the entire planet.
Fortunately, the amount of methane currently bubbling out is not climatologically important. It is not clear what would happen, though, were temperatures to significantly increase in the region. Its real danger lies in its impact on Earth’s temperature.
Another site that is popular for this phenomenon is Lake Baikal. a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Russia, it is one of the world’s largest, oldest, and deepest lake, containing over 20% of the world’s freshwater. Pictured, bubbles of rising methane froze during winter into the exceptionally clear ice covering the lake.
Since methane gases are highly inflammable it traps heat 30 times more than carbon dioxide does and a small flame could cause an explosion and might be very dangerous.
Though it could make for a cool science experiment, methane is no joke.
It wouldn’t be a problem if Abraham Lake was the only place with frozen methane bubbles. These bubbles are truly more common in thousands of other lakes, from Alberta to Alaska, Siberia to Scandinavia. The highest concentration of bubbles is most likely found in the Far North—suspended for centuries beneath Arctic ice.
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