Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Students suffer in winds chill

I’ve been a student at the University of Massachusetts for two and half years now, and I’ve lived here for about a year. I can say with absolute confidence that the single worst thing about UMass is the wind.

It comes down from the north; cold sub-Arctic blasts from Canada, Vermont and New Hampshire; sweeping over farms, bridges, trees and foothills until it reaches its destination – The tall buildings and spires of the University. The campus seems to be built as a playground for the northern winds; all nice, flat and boxy buildings that force it to curve around and pick up speed, then the campus center, the Du Bois Library, the Lederle Graduate Research Center and the Southwest Residential Area, sticking up to create wind tunnels that funnel the aerial beast down to the ground to attack helpless students.

Then there’s the big mass of the Fine Arts Center and its supposed “piano” shape right at the end of the depression holding the campus pond. The wind comes down from over and through the campus center, sweeps over the pond and is forced over the Fine Arts Center. Like an airfoil, the wind is blown over the building and makes a low-pressure pocket in the arcade in front of it. We all like to hope that it’s safe in there, that the wind won’t find us, but we’re being foolish.

The wind whips around from one end of the Fine Arts Center with vengeance. It’s like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park: utterly relentless and unforgiving. It is, I believe, an illustration of Bernoulli’s principle, where a dinosaur becomes more cunning the hungrier it gets.

The wind we suffer from here certainly seems like a predator. It could be fairly warm but you wouldn’t know because of the wind chill. It just swoops down and gnaws at any exposed part of your body. I like walking – considering it makes up the majority of my exercise – but being assaulted by hurricane-force winds puts me off.

Sometimes it seems like those old Arbor Day commercials showing scratchy film of the Dust Bowl. I bet I could make a small cart, hoist a sail and make it down North Pleasant Street. I wouldn’t recommend doing so, but I bet it would work.

Is there anything we can do about the wind, short of going some place warm for the winter?

To find the answer, it is worth investigating what the wind is and where it comes from. According to the National Weather Service, wind is the result of differences in air pressure between two geographic areas. The pressure differences can be caused by atmospheric absorption of solar energy, differences in altitude of the geographic areas, the Earth’s rotation and axial tilt, a slight contribution from the moon’s gravity and the odd catastrophic explosion or two, such as from a volcano, nuclear blast or asteroid impact/atmospheric entry disintegration. I do not believe that the winds we deal with down here are caused by Canadian nuclear testing, but perhaps the CIA should investigate, just to make sure.

Anyways, the most likely reason for the strong winds is that we’re in a valley. We’re not that far above sea level so we’ve got a higher pressure than say, most of Vermont. In the winter, pressure decreases because of cooler temperatures, but all that air is still weighed down by the rest of the atmosphere, so there’s some give-and-take between the competing forces. But another force is involved: the sun. Because of the cooler air temperature, the air is dryer so there are fewer clouds. On days without many clouds, the atmosphere absorbs more solar energy, warming up and increasing air pressure.

The most affected area is going to be one that’s very cold and dry, like eastern Canada and northern New England. The high pressure areas win out and expand, creating the north wind that speeds up as it goes through river valleys because of Bernoulli’s principle.    

I think the solution lies in those Arbor Day commercials: We can plant trees. A nice, dense forest of tall pine trees with some hardwoods thrown in for variety, planted across the northern side of campus, should work wonders when it matures. A shorter term solution would be to build tunnels linking all campus buildings, or at least all academic buildings. They have a similar network at the State University of New York in Albany beneath their main academic quadrangle.

The tunnels will also be useful because we can hide in them when the dinosaurs attack.

Matthew M. Robare is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at mrobare@student.umass.edu.

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