We’ve had a recent cold snap here on the East Coast of the US, and technology for controlling the weather would sure come in handy right now. I was surprised to learn from a quick Google search that a variety of weather modification technology already exists, ranging from cloud seeding to hail cannons. Many of these technologies have very limited or no scientific evidence to validate their effectiveness, but I still find it fascinating that people have generated so many ideas and inventions for weather control. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a product on the market that I can use to flip a switch and instantly make the weather in Washington D.C. 70 degrees and sunny. While I wait for that invention to get a grant from the USPTO, let’s take a quick look at five granted US patents (located through Google Patents) which describe various technologies for weather modification.
Continue reading for an overview of recent inventions for controlling the weather!
1. US 3659785, Issued May 2, 1972 – Weather Modification Utilizing Microencapsulated Material
This patent describes:
A fog and cloud seeding method and agent utilizing microencapsulation techniques whereby controlled seeding particle size for both dry initial particles and particles dispensed as solution droplets provides for the production and maintenance of a predetermined particle spectrum when using hygroscopic chemical compounds which are fragile, brittle, or friable in crystalline structure.
2. US 4470544, Issued Sep 11, 1984 – Method of and means for weather modification
The abstract of this patent states:
The weather near a continental arid zone is modified by increasing the heat storage of the seas westwardly of the arid zone during the summer. The heat storage is increased by mixing the relatively warmer surface water with relatively cooler deeper water thereby reducing the surface temperature of the seas during the summer. Cooling the surface of the water will increase the radiant heat flux due to solar radiation and decrease the radiant heat loss from the surface during the summer thus increasing the amount of heat stored in the water an available for evaporation during the winter. Mixing is achieved by pumping water from a lower level in the seas to the upper level. In one embodiment of the invention, normal wave motion provides the mode of power for the pumping operation. In another embodiment, mixing is achieved by a paddle that is operated by wave motion.
3. US 5357865, Issued Oct 25, 1994 – Method of cloud seeding
This patent describes:
A method of cloud seeding for precipitation enhancement comprises releasing hygroscopic seeding particles from a seeding flare (10). The particles are obtained by burning, in the flare, a pyrotechnic composition which includes, as an oxidizing agent, a compound selected from the group consisting in potassium chlorate and potassium perchlorate. The particles are allowed to enter a suitable cloud formation. The particles act as seeds or nuclei for precipitable water drop formation, thereby to enhance precipitation from the cloud formation.
4. US 5411209, Issued May 2, 1995 – Anti-hail shock wave generator
According to the abstract:
To improve the transmission of positive ions from ground level to cloud level by a shock wave generator, a shroud is provided which surrounds the barrel of the generator for guiding a convective air flow vertically along the sides of the barrel to an orifice of the barrel. Positive ions present in the ambient air and also created by the environment surrounding the hot barrel are drawn upwardly by convection and a negative pressure following each explosion. The shroud is higher than the barrel and positive ions are drawn into the area in front of the barrel where shock waves displace the ions upwardly to cloud level for preventing hail nuclei formation.
5. US 5984239, Issued Nov 16, 1999 – Weather modification by artificial satellites
The technology described in this patent is a “Satellite Weather Modification System (SWMS) [that] uses earth satellites to harness solar energy to modify the thermodynamics and composition of the earth’s atmosphere.”
Winter is coming, so you might want to stock up on your anti-hail shock wave generators. Maybe in a few decades, I’ll be able to turn up the heat outside using a system of weather modification satellites. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to do things the old-fashioned way and put on an extra sweater.
What are your favorite weather modification inventions? Let us know in the comments!
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