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Ice catches fire and explodes as ecologists stab methane bubbles on frozen lake

There's explosive research taking place on a frozen lake in Alaska.

A video circulating the web shows researchers stabbing methane bubbles that are trapped beneath frozen Goldstream Lake, near Fairbanks, Alaska. It seems like chilly work but in fact, the situation quickly becomes heated as the researchers hold a lit match over the gas, causing it to explode into a ball of flames.

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The video was created by Mark Thiessen, a staff photographer for National Geographic magazine.

Thiessen photographed the flaming work of the ecologist in the video, Katey Walter Anthony, for a recent piece in the magazine. The story describes how Walter Anthony and her team study the effects of global warming by measuring the amount of methane that's bubbling up from the lake.

Methane is a greenhouse gas with a much greater impact on climate change than CO2, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Since methane is invisible and odourless, lighting it on fire proves the researchers have found the right gas.

This isn't the only lake that bubbles up each winter. A man-made lake in Alberta, called Abraham Lake, also develops layers of methane bubbles that become trapped beneath the ice each year as the winter weather sets in.

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CBC posted an image collection of the spectacular visual effect created by this natural, though increasingly troubling, phenomenon as it materialized this winter on Abraham Lake.

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