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How would a cloud factory work?

  1. Sep 8, 2012 #1
    Admittedly, this is a rather strange request. I am an author researching my first fantasy novel, and I'm trying to create at least some degree of verisimilitude for regular physics in a world that has powerful magic. One plot point is that a city has created a superweapon in the form of a controllable supercell, and they have several huge factories pumping out the moisture to feed the thunderstorm. They have ways to create the right atmospheric conditions to support the supercell and also keep it from actually discharging any of its energy until they are ready.

    If this is at least somewhat plausible, given some magic but not using it as a handwave, what would be in one of the cloud factories? Just boiling off huge amounts of water to create the vapor necessary seems rather prosaic.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2012 #2
    Well without knowing how you plan on organizing/discribing your magic system I can only provide suggestions.

    according to This a supercell forms in a very particular manner

    First step would be generating the Moisture necessary. maybe they use a near by lake or underground river, or drain directly from the aquifer. Unless of course they generate the moisture out of the air directly using some sort of energy to matter magic :)

    Then they would need to find a way to deposit the moisture into the upper atmosphere, likely using the same format as a naturally forming supercell. Check the anatomy section of the above link

    After they created the supercell they would need a way to move it, probably by creating high pressure zones "Behind" the cell and potentially Low pressure zones where they are targeting and letting it slide into position.

    As for preventing the discharge along the way, it's really depends on how they handled the other problems, but the simplest solution is some kind of shield the slows or stops electrical transfer to the ground. Hopefully it would also build up more energy as it moves.

    Hope this helps
  4. Sep 8, 2012 #3
    Thank you for the reply.

    That is a good idea about the river. The city they are working in is situated on a major river, so the cloud factories would likely be set up along its banks. That way they have a constant supply of water and then it's just a matter of evaporating it, by boiling like I said or perhaps some other method. What would be the most efficient method to actually get that water into the air?

    The other parts you mentioned are actually easier. My world has multiple magical paradigms, but the one most relevant is that the creatures doing this are winged humanoids with the ability to physically effect the weather. They can push clouds around, strike them to create targeted lightning, or cause small, localized wind patterns by just moving rapidly with intent (larger ones if they act in concert). Getting the moisture into the upper atmosphere, preventing the cloud from discharging its energy, and moving the cloud into position once it's ready are labor intensive, but doable.

    On a slightly related issue, what would happen if some force were to suddenly and violently reverse the downdraft at the center of a large tornado?
  5. Sep 9, 2012 #4
    Ha in D&D I love playing flying races.

    Depending on what you mean by a reverse of the downdraft

    If your talking about just creating a straight updraft then the most likely result would be a temporary disruption.

    If you created an opposing Updraft (that is one that follows the same angle, and rotation as the downdraft. The result would most likely be the same. Although (don't know if its possible.) I suppose a sort of wave cancellation could happen but would not address the root cause of a Tornado, which takes place high in the sky.
  6. Sep 9, 2012 #5
    As I mentioned, some of them can change the course of winds by moving that direction, I was visualizing a very strong one flying straight up the tornado's downdraft.

    Since simply reversing the central downdraft would not work, what sort of action would create a situation that might possibly be described as a "catastrophic disruption"? :bugeye:
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2012
  7. Sep 9, 2012 #6
    If your talking about a way to stop the tornado in its tracks, and cause damage.

    I think the more likely was would be to induce a cooling effect in the clouds. Tornadoes form from air moving at different rates, and convection currents are what drive these winds. by cooling the air you do two things

    1. You remove the Moisture from the air. it would probably come down as snow/sleet/rain or (if cooled fast enough Hail)
    2. Without the hot air to drive the super-cell's winds the whole storm would likely dissipate
  8. Sep 10, 2012 #7
    Okay, thanks. That is actually very, very workable. The character who would be doing this is a demigod of sorts with power over things related to night, including cold. She's also supposed to be highly intelligent and creative. So putting it all together, the cloud factories are feeding moisture into the supercell, the attendants are keeping it from wasting its energy, and the weather pattern itself has become self-sustaining via the convection currents.

    So when fighting the storm, forces on the ground have taken out the cloud factories and airborne forces have distracted the attendants, allowing the storm to start taking its natural course. So for the final blow, how does it sound if she were to fly up the downdraft of a large tornado to temporarily disrupt it, then superchill the air in the middle of the cloud formation's warm updraft?

    Oh, I should probably mention (I coulda sworn I did somewhere) that the storm itself has become sentient and possessed by an eldritch horror. Thanks for the help. It's good to have a little verisimilitude even in the most unrealistic of scenes.
  9. Sep 10, 2012 #8
    That should have the desired effect of stopping the storm in its tracks.

    Nope. no mention of it being a Sentient Eldritch Horror. :smile:
    Also I'm just happy it helped, and Since I forgot to mention earlier Welcome to the fourms
  10. Sep 10, 2012 #9


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