Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Welcome to Michigan, try not to freeze

From Dose of Reality:

Over the last few months I’ve met and spoken with many potential Michigan medical students.  They invariably have questions about how the coursework is structured in the medical school, whether I’m nervous about returning to the wards after many years in PhD-land, and what it’s like to live in Ann Arbor (as compared with a big city).  Only rarely do applicants ask about the winters…

My undergraduate thesis adviser once said something along the lines of “The people who settled Michigan were the ones who thought the fall was really pretty, and then ate the others during the winter.”  (I’m pretty sure my recollection of this quote has gotten more gruesome over the years, and that he likely said something more like “…and survived the winter” but I think my memory of the quote is closer to the sentiment of the original statement…  He did not like the winter.)  Though I didn’t used to dislike the winter much (except during the 1-2 weeks we have every year of –15F to –20F temperatures), I’ve become more frustrated with the weather as it gets weirder.  We’ve had less and less consistent weather during the time I’ve lived in Michigan (a veritable lifetime) and although I couldn't verify that it's getting colder, this year certainly seemed to. 

As I was reading the New York Times the other day, I found an opinion piece discussing how global warming is making the winters colder.  It involves a brief explanation of how snowfall in Siberia affects temperatures and snowfall in the Northeastern United States, and although the author loses points for citing himself, he makes some really great points.  I was particularly excited to see interesting conclusions being drawn from a computational model that suggested new hypotheses to be tested with data.  Unfortunately, given the current state of anything that might be described as decisive action on climate change, I am not optimistic.  This suggests to me that the weather here is just going to get stranger and stranger, and that we’ll have more weeks of sub-zero temperatures alternating with weeks of balmy 40-degree days.  Dear applicants, please join us at our amazing medical school, but hold on to your hats…  and coats…  and mittens…  and boots…  and light fall jackets just in case.

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