Thursday, January 24, 2013

36 Degrees: Desert v. Upper Midwest

It amazes me just how different it is between the desert southwest and the temperate, deciduous Midwest.

Ok, obviously it's very different. I mean, duh... but the way a single person can respond to the exact same temperatures in these two biomes is fascinating!

"Cold" and "hot" are relative terms.  They truly are.  For instance, 36 degrees feels outstandingly cold in the desert, yet in the upper Midwest it's 'a bit chilly.'

In the desert southwest, 36 degrees is frigid.  

Your fingers start to hurt if you're not wearing good gloves while outside.  You shiver ceaselessly, your cheekbones turn red and hurt, and you're hesitant to spend time outdoors with anyone unless you really, really like them.

A lot.

On the flip side, 36 degrees feels nice in the upper Midwest.  

You can totally go outside to take out the trash, or get something out of the car, and not wear a coat.  Sure, you still need long sleeves, but it's actually not bad.

It has nothing to do with acclimation to the cold.  I could hardly have been considered "acclimated" last year after arriving in December.  That's just crazy talk!

I'm not sure what the reason for this actually is, but the exact same temperatures in these two biomes feels so amazingly different that it causes me to pause in wonder.

Is it the pressure?  The humidity?  The elevation?  All of the above?  None of the above?

I haven't the slightest clue.  All I know is that there truly is a real difference in the physical reaction a body has to temperature in these two staggeringly different environments.

Perhaps you know the answer.  

If so, please save me from this mind-bending and mystifying conundrum!  I have absolutely no doubt that if I went back to the desert southwest during a period in which the temperature dropped to 36, I'd be freezing my butt off... even though I just walked out into -8 degrees in a simple coat and gloves - no hat.

What in the world is the reason for this???

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