Ice Formations captured natural ice formations on ponds, lakes, and rivers in Fairbanks, Alaska. Many of these are frozen bubbles of gases like methane or carbon dioxide trapped under ice. When lake and river water freezes, it turns into ice slowly from the surface and traps the gases. The bubbles create unique geometric patterns.

The diameter of the ice formations in these photos is about 10-30 inches. As methane gas is considered as one of the fundamental causes of greenhouse effects, scientists in Alaska have begun researching these frozen bubbles in relation to the global climate change.

The water also shows other beautiful patterns in fall and winter. Snow falls on lakes and rivers, freezes, melts, refreezes, and creates unique organic patterns on ice. The vapor in the air freezes as frost, growing intricate ice crystals.

When the seasons change from Autumn to Winter in Fairbanks, I cheerfully head outside to find ice. Ice patterns shaped on a pond, lake, or river are one of the most magnetic subjects during the beginning of winter. The window to find ice patterns is short, because ground surfaces are quickly covered with fresh snowfall.

Wandering around looking for ice reminds me of boyhood treasure hunting. I used to run out into the woods after school, exploring places that made up my neighborhood. It was an adventure, and I enjoyed leaving my footprints on unknown areas. It was fun and uplifting, satisfying my young, innocent curiosity.

As an adult, photographing ice is rooted in those childhood adventures. It’s in that spirit that I strive to know the environment on a deeper level. Genuine curiosity propels me to actively involve myself in the place I live.

That vital dialogue between yourself and your surroundings develops your thoughts on how you live in the place, and face bigger issues like global climate change. Everything—even if it appears to be insignificant—connects to larger aspects of our Earth.

—Ryota Kajita

Editors’ Note: Don’t miss the work of all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Earth Awards 2015. In total, you’ll find 34 unique points of view inspired by the earth, nature and our shared surroundings. Beauty, destruction, wonder and hope—these are timely, important works that shouldn’t be missed!