Meltdown at Nature Boardwalk

Temperatures are above freezing! After a particularly cold, snowy patch, it seems the weather is finally warming up. Consequently, we’re already seeing changes at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. The ice is breaking up and melting. This morning, mallard ducks gathered around a newly enlarged patch of open water at Nature Boardwalk.

Although it looks like the warming trend should continue for a while, this isn’t the first time this winter we’ve observed the ice melting. Coinciding with the transition from 2010 to 2011, we observed major weather changes at Nature Boardwalk. Temperatures were as high as 56 degrees on New Year’s Eve and 48 degrees the day before and after. This was sandwiched between stretches of much colder, snowier weather.

These high temperatures melted all the snow that had accumulated over the previous weeks, and began to weaken the layer of ice that covers large sections of the pond at Nature Boardwalk. As the ice melted and thinned in some places, it formed these patterns in the ice that look to me like textbook neurons.

I also noticed these when the ice was forming back at the beginning of winter. The stage is set for spring!

Vicky Hunt

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