Controlling the global weather

Type: Journal Article

Venue: Bulletine of the American Meteorological Society


Hoffman, Ross N., 2002: Controlling The Global Weather. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 241–248.
doi: 10.1175/1520-0477(2002)083<0241:CTGW>2.3.CO;2

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The earth's atmosphere may be chaotic and very likely is sensitive to small perturbations. Certainly, very simple nonlinear dynamical models of the atmosphere are chaotic, and the most realistic numerical weather prediction models arevery sensitive to initial conditions. Chaos implies that there is a finite predictability time limit no matter how well the atmosphere is observed and modeled. Extreme sensitivity to initial conditions suggests that small perturbations tothe atmosphere may effectively control the evolution of the atmosphere, if the atmosphere is observed and modeled sufficiently well.

The architecture of a system to control the global atmosphere and the components of such a system are described. A feedback control system similar to many used in industrial settings is envisioned. Althoughthe weather controller is extremely complex, the existence of the required technology is plausible in the time range of several decades.

While the concept of controlling the weather has often appeared in science fiction literature, this statement of the problem provides a scientific basis and a system architecture to actually implement global weather control. Large-scale weather control raises important legal and ethical questions. The nation that controls its own weather will perforce control the weather of other nations. Weather "wars" are conceivable. An international treaty may be required, limiting the use of weather control technology.