Climatic weapons: myths and reality

Increasingly, we are witnessing natural disasters. Scientists explain this by global warming, “nervousness” of the climate, conspirologists are sure: the whole blame for climate weapons. Where there is a boundary between truth and conjecture – meteorologist Alexander Surkov.

Talk about a climatic or, if you take it broader, geophysical weapons, are not groundless, and the question itself deserves close attention. By the middle of the 20th century, scientists had made great strides in studying atmospheric and other natural processes and had discovered a source of energy of unprecedented power-nuclear reactions. People have the opportunity to influence the environment, and not only with good intentions. And if the climate weapon was created, it could bring a lot of harm to mankind.

The latter has always sought to less depend on climate and weather, to seize the elements and to direct their forces to their own advantage. The pagans resorted to rituals and the help of sorcerers. These rites, as you know, have survived to our day – for example, in Africa. But beliefs are one thing, and science is another. Observant people noticed that after heavy forest fires rain often falls. Precipitation accompanied also artillery battles. Later it was experimentally proved that the water vapor contained in the air turns into cloud drops due to the presence of centers or condensation nuclei.

These come to the atmosphere from different sources. Crystals of sea salt are in the air with splashes of sea water. Droplets of nitric acid are formed during thunderstorms and forest fires. Fires and chimneys supply smoke particles to the air, as well as sulfate salts – sulfates, the wind raises soil particles from the ground. It is on these particles in the clouds grow droplets of water or ice crystals.

Precipitation most often falls out of mixed clouds, consisting of both water droplets and ice particles. At the same time, condensation and freezing of droplets (crystallization) occur simultaneously in the cloud, and the transformation of water vapor into crystals (sublimation) takes place. Depending on the ratio of these processes, various precipitates may fall out. For example, with intensive growth of solid ice particles in a cumulonimbus cloud, hail forms.

It was the disclosure of the mechanism of cloud formation and precipitation that formed the basis for methods of weather influence. After going from experiment to implementation in practice, they proved their worth and are successfully applied in different countries and spheres of life. From the past centuries, we have witnessed numerous attempts to cause rain. In this field, and frank deceivers, and scammers, and eccentrics, and enthusiastic researchers worked. Someone raised powder charges on balloons, someone invented chemical mixtures burnt in large vats, someone heated the air with large bonfires. One of the most famous “sellers of the rain” was an American, Charles Hetfield. He achieved such authority that he concluded an agreement on filling the reservoir with rainwater in the city of San Diego, after which there was a flood. He is also credited with saving Italy from a drought in 1922.

Charles Hetfield, causing rain

In the middle of the last century, the weather impact received a scientific basis, experiments were conducted and technologies were developed for evoking precipitation, scattering fogs, and fighting hail. Large-scale research was conducted in the USSR, the USA and other countries. The essence of precipitation management is very simple: to prevent precipitation over a certain territory, it is necessary to provoke their fallout over another. As active substances, artificial condensation nuclei (usually iodide silver or lead iodide) and refrigerants (solid carbon dioxide) are used. For the seeding of clouds, reagents use airplanes or projectiles. In the cloud, the formation and coarsening of the droplets are accelerated, as a result of which precipitation begins. The same technology is used to artificially increase precipitation.

Dissipation of reagents by airplane
An effective and well-organized system for combating hail was established in the Soviet Union. Roshydromet is still engaged in this direction. In the southern regions of the country, where hail every year causes great damage to agriculture, there are paramilitary units of the hydrometeorological service equipped with special rocket launchers for delivering reagents to a thundercloud. Only one projectile released into the sky brings into the cloud trillions of reagent particles, which become additional nuclei of crystallization. Competing with the natural embryos of hailstones, they take a piece of water from the cloud. As a result, ice particles do not reach large sizes and fall to the ground. Along the way, they often manage to melt, turning into rain.

Today, many countries are successfully managing rainfall: Russia, the United States, France, Australia, Syria, Iran and others. For the purposes of Roshydromet, for these purposes, there is a special aircraft laboratory based on the Yak-42, similar ships are also used abroad.

It is necessary to note an important feature of the described technologies: it is possible to cause or prevent precipitation only over a limited territory, that is, locally. In addition, the water balance is not disturbed, and it is possible to disperse the clouds over the city only by pouring rain over its surroundings. From the history of recent years, this fact is known: some Arab countries used artificial rainfall techniques, and in neighboring states there was a shortage of rain.

The military could not fail to pay attention to these sufficiently effective technologies, and history knows the cases of using meteorological weapons. This is the operation of Popeye, conducted by the United States during the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1972. American aircraft sprayed silver iodide in the clouds during the rainy season, and rainfall increased threefold compared to the norm. As a result, rice fields and roads were blurred, and also the guerrilla path of Ho Chi Minh.

However, the weather in large areas depends on the processes of a large, synoptic scale, that is, from the motion of atmospheric vortices-cyclones and anticyclones, air masses with different properties and the atmospheric fronts separating them. To interfere with them, a huge expenditure of energy and money is required. For example, the energy of a single cyclone is comparable to the power of several atomic bombs. Now, no state has the resources and technologies for such large-scale effects on the atmosphere.

Although the mastery of atomic energy at one time inspired great hopes for the military and politicians-militarists. In addition to direct nuclear strikes against the enemy, nuclear weapons could serve as an instrument for influencing natural processes in order to cause such natural disasters as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods. Experimental nuclear explosions in various media were conducted in the United States and in the Soviet Union. But the test results were not encouraging.

At the same time, the build-up of nuclear weapons has caused scientists to sound the alarm. According to their calculations, the result of a large-scale nuclear conflict was to be the onset of a nuclear winter. Ashes from numerous fires would cause a sharp reduction in the influx of solar energy to the surface of the Earth. This would lead to a cooling of the atmosphere for many years. Here is the real climate weapon against the whole planet!

Numerous studies have been devoted to modeling the conditions of nuclear winter, which continue today. Scientists are using increasingly complex models of the Earth’s climate system and increasingly powerful computers. At the same time, experts are not at all unequivocal in assessing the geophysical consequences of nuclear war, but one thing is certain: it will turn into a serious catastrophe for humanity and cause irreparable harm to the natural environment.

And yet, humanity has realized what opportunities and consequences will be created by the creation of climate weapons. In 1977, at the initiative of the USSR, the international convention No. 2692 “On the prohibition of military or any other hostile use of means of influence on the natural environment” was adopted. Of course, the existence of this agreement does not guarantee that this or that country will refuse to research, test and even use climate weapons. After all, discovering the use of such technologies will be difficult: it requires a developed monitoring system that provides the most detailed information about the state of the environment.

So it’s hard to stop the supporters of the conspiracy theory from discussing climate weapons. The Internet is clogged with materials about the secret technologies of the meteorological war. And the interest in the issue is supported, oddly enough, by nature itself, giving the cataclysm for cataclysm to mankind: the eruption of the Eyjafjadlajökull volcano in Iceland, the hurricanes of Irma, Katrina, the heatwave of 2010 in European Russia, the earthquake, floods, tsunamis … So it is convenient to explain all this the use of secret weapons, which would be quite natural in the era of global confrontation of political forces.

It is alleged that a variety of types of climate weapons were invented: creation of an artificial ozone hole, a change in the slope of the earth’s axis, and so on. As one of the most impressive horror stories, the American HAARP project (High Frequency Active Research Program for the Auroral Zone) is being submitted. Within its framework in Alaska, from 1997 to 2007, the world’s most powerful radio transmitter complex was built, designed to affect the Earth’s ionosphere. It carried out studies both military and peaceful. Details about the work on the project and the results can be found here.

What rumors do not go around this complex. He is credited with the possibility of disabling communications and electronics, causing natural and man-made disasters and even affecting the psyche of people at a distance. All this is supposedly carried out by creating plasma formations (plasmoids) in the ionosphere that serve for the directed reflection of energy and radiation flows (but a similar project exists in Russia, for example, the Sura complex in the Nizhny Novgorod region).

In response, experts argue that the impact of a complex of radio transmitters on the ionosphere is incomparable with the amount of energy that it receives from the Sun. Modern science has no evidence that such small perturbations in the ionosphere can significantly change the state of the lower layer of the atmosphere – the troposphere, namely it is the “weather kitchen”.

Scientists have not yet figured out the whole complex set of interrelated processes taking place in the earth’s shells, in order to achieve the desired effects by means of small, point-like effects. In a number of studies, the existence of such mechanisms that play the role of a trigger is assumed (they are also called triggers). But in this direction, science has progressed so far.

There is one more thing. It is obvious that the country that has mastered the technologies of large-scale impact on the weather and climate, first of all would not allow the occurrence of natural disasters on its territory, and this we do not observe today. Nevertheless, research continues, and humanity will certainly achieve great success in managing weather someday. As it will dispose of them – it is not yet known.

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