Spring is Coming!

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3_17_14StudentResponse(Lower)

 

Spring is in the air. While dogsledding last week, we witnessed a big change in the weather. The days are longer and the temperature has risen. The high temperature one day was 50 degrees Fahrenheit! The snow turned to mush. It kind of felt like skiing on top of mashed potatoes. This temperature was actually too warm for the dogs, so we didn’t run them during the warmest part of the day. Their fur coats are designed for -20, not 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The Spring Equinox (also called the Vernal Equinox) is coming up. It is on March 20. Do you know what that means? This is the first day of spring. An equinox happens twice a year. The length of the day and night are exactly the same on this day, because the sun is shining directly on the equator. In other words, the plane of the Earth’s equator passes the center of the Sun.

During an equinox, the Earth's North and South poles are not tilted toward or away from the Sun and the length of the day is the same at all points on Earth's surface. Image by Przemyslaw "Blueshade" Idzkiewicz. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earth-lighting-equinox_EN.png
During an equinox, the Earth’s North and South poles are not tilted toward or away from the Sun and the length of the day is the same at all points on Earth’s surface. Image by Przemyslaw Idzkiewicz.

 

The season in the northern hemisphere is the opposite of the southern hemisphere. When I said that the Spring Equinox is coming up, I meant that the Spring Equinox will happen in the northern hemisphere. On the same day, the Autumnal Equinox will happen in the southern hemisphere

 

A sign of the warm weather can be seen on top of the snow. Little black spots can be seen on top of the snow. These are snow fleas. Well, they are not really fleas—that is just their nickname. These insects are really springtails.

 

Close up of a springtail. Photo by Daniel Tompkins.
Close up of a springtail. Photo by Daniel Tompkins.

The polar vortex seems to be a thing of the past, but we still have several weeks of dogsledding left. This is a fun time to be out on the trail. After that warm day, the temperature dropped, making the trails fast and icy. The snow on the frozen lakes is covered in a crust of ice. This means we can easily travel anywhere on the lakes! With more daylight, we can spend even more time outside every day.

 

What is spring like where you live? Were you affected by the polar vortex this winter? How can you tell that the seasons are changing? What is your favorite season? We would love to hear from you!

Image by Colivine
Image by Colivine

 

Further Exploration:

The Reason for the Seasons lesson plans: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/activity/the-reason-for-the-seasons/?ar_a=1

Sun and Earth lesson plans: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/archive/xpeditions/lessons/07/g35/seasons.html?ar_a=1

 

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