We know methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that occurs both naturally and also from human agricultural and industrial activities. However, methane is being released into the atmosphere at an increasing rate, due to the accelerating melting of permafrost in the earth's northern regions.
In Alaska, Japanese-born photographer Ryota Kajita is capturing what these changes look like, up close. In his series titled Ice Formations, Kajita shows how this startling phenomena occurs, and explains:
This series captures ice formations on the swamps, ponds, lakes and rivers of Interior Alaska. Many of the formations are frozen bubbles of gases such as methane and carbon dioxide trapped under ice. When water freezes, it turns into ice slowly from the surface and traps the gases. The bubbles and freezing temperatures create unique geometric patterns.
From an aesthetic point of view, these images are starkly beautiful, showing powdery, light and elegant compositions. But on the scientific side, Kajita's work has a serious message:
Because methane gas is considered one of the fundamental causes of greenhouse effects, scientists in Alaska are researching these frozen bubbles in relation to the global climate change.
Having been fascinated by the outdoors and by the majestic beauty of nature since childhood, Kajita aims to expand this youthful curiosity to others, as he explains:
As an adult, photographing ice has its roots in my childhood experiences. In this spirit I strive to know the environment at a deeper level. Genuine curiosity propels me to actively engage the place where I live. It is a conversation between nature and me.
I hope [to] guide viewers to feel connected to nature, inspire their curiosity of natural phenomena, and invite them to explore the geometric beauty in the details of the organic patterns. The vital dialogue between a person and their surroundings can develop their thoughts on how they live in the place perhaps allowing them to face bigger issues like global climate change. Everything – even if it appears to be insignificant – connects to larger aspects of our Earth.