I'm Melting

It has been fairly warm here for the last four days, actually getting to 41F/5˚C today. It means people walking around without hats and gloves, and riding snowmachines in their t-shirts. It also means the snow is starting to melt, and melt quickly. At Atigun on Sunday, the tundra was noticeably less snow-covered. At Toolik, the snow is still around but becoming more slushy, making it harder to use the snowmachine to access trap sites.

You can see here how the view changed from where we would leave our things at Atigun over the course of about two weeks.

Melt
East Atigun April 18.

Melt
East Atigun April 23.

Melt
East Atigun April 27.

Melt
East Atigun April 30.

What I've found interesting is the way the snow melts. It's from the bottom-up, not top-down, as I would have imagined. I thought the sun would heat the snow and it would melt. But it's more of an earth warming and melting the snow scenario.

Melt
East Atigun April 20.

Melt
East Atigun April 20.

It's leaving large puddles in places around camp, and these puddles freeze over at night, leaving more slick ice. It's not as easy to walk around now, and I've started wearing my rubber boots around camp all the time now. Goofy, but effective.

Camp melt
Slush melt in camp.

Camp melt
I've learned slush is harder to walk in than packed snow.

Yesterday was our last day trapping squirrels, and all four were returned to their homes by evening – three males and a female. Today we spent the day cleaning the lab – organizing, sweeping, mopping, wiping down, taking inventory, entering data, etc. I also packed most of my things and will finish tomorrow morning.

Thaw
Atigun river April 23.

This morning I also said goodbye to three of the people I've been spending my meals and free time with – Emma, an assistant manager, and Tom and Matt, Team Wolverine. I was sad to see them leave, but really happy to have met them. I didn't come to Toolik with any idea of how the social situation would be, I just knew that there would not be many people in camp compared to the summer season. I thought it might actually be a little lonely. Instead, I met a great group of new friends and shared meals and stories and board games with them. It's been a real treat, and I'm happy to take home those memories, as well as the science, to share with my students.

Melt
East Atigun April 27.

Melt
East Atigun April 28.

It's my last night here, and I've eaten another healthy portion of dinner, this time Cuban pork and blueberry pie. Yum.

I also had some time to make a few short video clips relating to the snow, so please enjoy.

Date
Temperature
5˚C/41˚F

Comments

Adeena Teres

I have been seeing the same thing in Greenland. I never thought about the seasons of the Arctic before but after being there I have realized that Spring is melt season. It's wet, muddy, warm and a world of difference from the pristine white that I see in my head every time I picture the arctic but it is a natural part of the Arctic seasons. I love the pictures you were able to capture. Great visuals of the melt!

Jennifer Baldacci

Thanks Adeena. It was a really great season to be there and see it happening. So much beauty..and so much water!