Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

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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