It was a sweltering eight degrees Celsius (that's 46 degrees Fahrenheit) outside yesterday morning, well above freezing. Two of the five lakes we visit regularly have melted, and there are brown patches all over the landscape. We even saw a flock of ducks flying over the crater rim - the only animal life I've seen on Devon Island, aside from the odd speck of a bird in the distance. Spring has most definitely sprung.
This isn't entirely good news. Several of our science projects are about observing changes in the permafrost during the seasonal transition, and the seasons have gotten a bit ahead of us here. We have been in a mad rush to get pre-thaw samples, and will be very busy for the next few weeks, now that the thaw is well under way. To make matters worse, the snowmobiles will be useless when the brown patches outnumber the white - but the ATVs won't be able to replace them as long as there are deep snow areas between the hab and our sample sites. We're hoping the vehicular transition period will be short.
Here's a snapshot of the temperatures so far. These are 16cm and 32cm deep in the ground, so generally colder than the air temperature. Note the very regular daily fluctuation, up until a few days ago - then everything gets messy, as the upper layers start to thaw. If you're wondering about the jump in the Trinity Lake data, we had to move the sensors there a couple of times.
It's getting toasty!