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Name: Margaret S.
Status: student
Age:  16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
If scientists know how tornadoes are created and what conditions are necessary for one to occur, then shouldn't it be possible for us to create one and then use the energy provided as electricity? Margaret,

Theoretically, yes. However, the amount of energy required to produce a thunderstorm that would produce the rotation characteristics that form a tornado would far exceed the amount of energy that could be recovered. Remember that it requires energy to produce phenomena and since energy is lost through frictional dissipation and heat transfer, the energy left to recover is less than you used to create the phenomena. Furthermore, the amount of energy required to produce a thunderstorm and tornado is so huge, it is unlikely that man could ever come close to doing it.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory


I do not think that scientists know exactly how tornadoes are created, but even if they do it is such an intense density of energy it would be difficult to harness it in a controlled way. You can think of it as trying to harness a dynamite explosion to produce electricity.

Vince Calder


Dear Margaret-

The idea of harnessing the natural, but destructive forces of nature to produce energy for useful purposes is enticing, but that capability still remains in the future.

We are learning more each year about the conditions necessary for tornado formation, and we know some of the processes responsible for initiating tornadic winds, but there is much we don't know yet. For instance, we cannot precisely predict where all the conditions necessary to form a tornado will come together, much more than 20 or 30 minutes in advance.

Tornadic thunderstorms release tremendous amounts of energy...as much energy as an atomic bomb every minute of their life span..! At some time in the future we may be able to harvest a portion of the energy contained in a thunderstorm, but at the present time, the effort required to do that would be more than the energy obtained.

Wendell Bechtold, Meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO


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