It’s often said that everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it. In one of the more unusual physics papers I’ve come across recently, Temple University’s Rongjia Tao suggests we could change that.
He used the International Journal of Modern Physics B to suggest what might be called the Game of Thrones approach to the US’ tornado problem: build a giant wall. Or maybe three.
Tao’s idea is based on a distinctive combination of geography that makes the US ground zero for tornado activity (last year, the US had 811 tornadoes; Europe had just 57). Cold air is lifted high above the Great Plains as it passes over the Rocky Mountains. Meanwhile, warm, humid air travels north across the plains from the Gulf of Mexico. This combination sets up the conditions for intense storm activity, which often produces tornadoes.
Tao’s idea is simple: interfere with the flow of air. And since it’s easier to get in the way of air flowing close to the ground, he suggests targeting the northward flow of air. All we need to do is build a giant wall that runs east-west, about 300 meters high (that’s about 1.5 times the height of the Westeros wall) and 50 meters wide. That wall would disrupt the northward flow of air enough to block the intense turnover that spawns tornadoes while still allowing air to flow north and produce rain.
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