Weather Warriors

[Image: Allied bombers in World War 2; via KUED].

Allied bombing raids during World War II “inadvertently experimented on the weather” in England by creating massive concentrations of artificial clouds as the planes roared off toward continental Europe. Researchers quoted by New Scientist claim that “where the aircraft circled and assembled into formation,” on one particular day back in 1944 for which military, meteorological, and even anecdotal eyewitness records are available, “it was significantly cloudier and 0.8°C cooler than the area upwind of the bases.”

In many ways, this is both obvious and uninteresting, as, of course, any uniquely large-scale act of artificial cloud-production—such as aircraft contrails—would have at least some effect on local weather.

But what, to me, seems most remarkable about this story is the darkly poetic idea that war brings with it its own meteorology, its own skies, storms, and atmospheres, literally altering the very firmament beneath which human affairs take place. World War II becomes an even more frightening event, as sun-obliterating cloudfronts of mechanized combat roll eastward over the ruined cities of Europe.

(Spotted via @subtopes; you can read more about weather warfare in The BLDGBLOG Book).

3 thoughts on “Weather Warriors”

  1. This makes me think of cloud seeding technology and the idea that it could be used as a weapon of war.

    I remember hearing about an Australian research team that had developed a breakthrough in laser based cloud seeding. The story went that the US military was haranguing them, trying to get them to sell the technology. Not sure if it had much basis in fact, however.

    In any case, it's an interesting idea that the military could use cloud seeding as a "weapon". They could use a localized rain shower to cover a covert operation?

    They could also (theoretically) seed clouds away from an enemy's soil, effectively "stealing" rain that would otherwise have fallen on their land. Could you wage a war by cutting off the enemy's rain supply?

    At this stage, I guess it's all pie in the sky, since the technology doesn't seem to be particularly advanced yet. Nevertheless, it's an interesting subject!

  2. The Experimental Aircraft Association tours the US with their B17 Flying Fortress coincidentally named "Aluminum Overcast".

  3. Some likelihood that wars have always done this… dust and smoke are among the most effective particles for seeding rain-forming clouds, and armies have always generated plenty of both.

    Some tribal rain-dances also used smoke from hilltops.

    But this level of cloud formation doesn't really amount to 'contol' – just as likely to hamper the side whose activities produce the inadvertent weather alterations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.