The Annals of Weather Warfare

[Image: Kurt, the Nazi weather station, via Beachcombing].

My morning began with the fascinating story of Kurt, a forgotten Nazi weather station installed on the coast of Labrador during World War II that was only rediscovered in 1981. From a long article by Murray Sager:

Wetterfunkgerat Land 26 (code name “Kurt“) consisted of ten canisters, one for the recording instruments, another for the 10-metre antenna and the others for the world’s first Ni-cad batteries. There was a second mast for an anemometer and wind vane. These automatic stations were designed to broadcast temperature, wind speed and direction, air pressure and humidity in coded 120-second broadcasts every three hours and were designed to operate for six months. The Germans had also developed automatic weather buoys which were normally submerged but surfaced to record and broadcast before re-submerging. They had a designed “life” of nine months, and some were still operating into 1946. “Kurt” however had a short life, falling silent after only a couple of broadcasts. The Germans were unable to return to repair it or to place a planned second station on Labrador.

From here, it becomes something out of a Jules Verne novel:

The station’s existence might have remained unknown. However, the son of the meteorologist attached to the U-boat [that originally installed Kurt], while going through his lather’s papers after his death, found photographs of a barren rock and snow covered coastline that he could not identify. He contacted Franz Selinger, a retired Siemens engineer who was writing a history of the company (Siemens had built the automatic stations). The photos were tentatively identified and on a Canadian Coast Guard patrol along the coast of Labrador they were used to match the present day shoreline, and the remains of the station were found.

The blog post where I first read the story suggests that weather warfare would make for an amazing book—as it happens, much of James Fleming’s recent Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control is about exactly that.

In a fantastic paper called “The Climate Engineers,” for instance, originally published in the Wilson Quarterly, Fleming quotes General George C. Kenney, former head of the Allied Strategic Air Command: Kenney once declared that “the nation which first learns to plot the paths of air masses accurately and learns to control the time and place of precipitation will dominate the globe”—first-strike meteorology, perhaps. Fleming goes on to describe hallucinatory military visions of a “perfectly accurate machine forecast combined with a paramilitary rapid deployment force” that could annihilate all enemies—a Global Weather Corps, so to speak, flying ahead of the storm winds that it itself would generate.

In any case, read Beachcombing and Murray Sager for more about this abandoned Nazi weather station in the Allied Arctic.

Bride of Climate Change

[Image: The earth is coming to get you… A dust storm in Iraq, via Pruned].

“Someday the U.S. military could drive a trailer to a spot just beyond insurgent fighting and, within minutes,” we read, “reconfigure part of the atmosphere, blocking an enemy’s ability to receive satellite signals, even as U.S. troops are able to see into the area with radar.”

They’ll roll up, in other words – and throw storms at you.

[Images: The Grand Island Supercell, photographed by Mike Hollingshead].

But imagine what an architect, or landscape architect, might do with such a thing: some atmosphere-reconfiguration technology disguised inside pillars, towers and arcades. An 18th c. English garden maze, lined with lichen-covered statuary, and each standing figure is an atmosphere-machine, generating clouds or clearing them. A cure for British weather.

You can turn them all on, in the right order, fast enough, and form tornadoes. The murderer of birds, whirled to their doom. And if it’s too close to Heathrow, your garden becomes a national security threat.

Harry Potter and the Garden of Storms.

[Images: An almost theologically intense supercell, photographed by Mike Hollingshead].

A new tower is built in midtown Manhattan, attracting storms, its upper floors constantly awash in sleeves of cloud cover. Ghostbusters III. Transmitters hidden inside marshland graveyards far east of London: Dracula Returns.

Or none of the above, just a military unit on a border somewhere, staring through binoculars, preparing to hurl hurricanes, the grand wizardy of war: Bride of Climate Change. A weaponized earth.