By: Co-owner and Guide Bill Mohrwinkel
I get asked frequently on our trips “ what do you do in the winter”? Yes, It’s cold and dark, we are losing about 5 minutes off each day until December 21st. Aside from the usual winter activities such as skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and curling, the long dark days make us a little……wacky.
So last night Carrie, Halley and I decided to go down to the pond near our house, drill holes in the ice, releasing the trapped methane bubbles, and light the gas as it escapes up the hole. You get flames from a couple inches to a couple feet, depending on the size of the trapped methane bubble. Ok, so it does involve a little adult beverage, It helps to calm your nerves when you light a big one that sounds like a jet engine. I know, sounds crazy. Anything to help with these long dark days, like sitting in front of my light box as I write this. But I really don’t think I could live anywhere else.
Methane in arctic lakes is a lots of fun (a real gas). It is also the topic of research at UAF. Here is a link and an except from a recent article about methane in arctic lakes:
“Lakes really flared up on this icy permafrost landscape, emitting huge amounts of methane,” she said.
As the permafrost around and under the lakes thaws, the organic material in it–dead plants and animals–can enter the lake bottom and become food for the bacteria that produce methane.
“All that carbon that had been locked up in the ground for thousands of years is converted to potent greenhouse gases:………….