Katey Walter Anthony is an aquatic ecologist and a biochemist. Her research in Alaska and Russia explores how global warming is increasing the thawing of frozen soil, or permafrost in polar regions. As the permafrost thaws, bubbles of a chemical called methane are released, and methane in the atmosphere leads to more global warming.
After shoveling off snow in her research locations, Walter Anthony’s team hacks open holes in the ice and lowers bubble traps into the water to get chemical samples. She also uses another on-the-spot method to find out if methane gas is present. She strikes a match. When flames leap—sometimes as high as trees—she knows she’s found methane.