Spring has sprung!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Spring has sprung.

The vernal equinox is the moment at which the sun passes directly over the Equator. It happened at 1:48 a.m. Eastern time.

It's also the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

This year's equinox is also underscoring concern about the effects of climate change on the seasons. What's happening is so noticeable that scientists can track it from space. Satellites measuring when land turns green have found that spring "green-up" is arriving earlier. North of the Mason-Dixon line, it's arrived an average of eight hours a year earlier since 1982.

Experts note that even the western wildfire season has been coming earlier.

In Washington, the cherry blossoms are set to peak at the end of the month. Just 30 years ago, the trees took until April 5th to fully bloom.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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