History of Weather Engineering

In many cultures there have been magical and religious practices to manipulate the weather.

American Indians

For example, some American Indians had rituals that were supposed to invoke rain.

Greek Mythology

Furthermore, in Greek mythology, Iphigenia was offered as a sacrifice to appease the wrath of the goddess Artemis, who had arranged for the Achaean fleet to travel in tranquillity at the beginning of the Trojan War. In Homer's Odyssey, Aeolus, God of the winds, gave Odysseus and his fleet the four winds in a bag. However, while Odysseus slept, the sailors opened the bag to search for booty, thus missing their course in the resulting gale.

Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, the lapis manalis was a sacred stone found on the outskirts of Rome, near the Servian walls, in the temple of Mars. When Rome suffered a severe drought, the stone was washed into the city.


The Witches of Berwick in Scotland were guilty of using black magic to invoke storms to assassinate King James VI of Scotland when the ship on which he was travelling almost sank. The Witches of Scandinavia supposedly sold wind in bags or kept it in wooden boxes, these wooden bags were sold to sailors who could release them when there was no wind. In several villages in Navarre, they prayed to St. Peter for rain in times of drought. If it did not rain, they removed the statue of St. Peter from the church and threw it into the river.

Witches add ingredients to a cauldron.
Witches add ingredients to a cauldron.

20th Century

Probably the first example of weather manipulation in practice was the lightning rod. In the 1950s, John von Neumann, a computer scientist and also one of the first to talk about weather manipulation, claimed that if the earth were to enter another ice age, a preventive solution would be to pollute the surface of glaciers. This could significantly change the albedo, thereby increasing the solar energy absorbed by the planet. This proposal has not been tested as it is materially impossible. In the 1950s and 1960s Wilhelm Reich conducted cloudbusting experiments, the results are controversial and not fully accepted by scientists. Ten years later, Jack Toyer built a rainfall generator on the Isle of Palms near Grafton with a solar mirror, static electromagnetic charge, and infrared light frequencies to induce weather in the vicinity of Australia. His work was continued by his predecessor, Peter Stevens.

Hail cannons at the 3rd International Congress on Hail Shooting held in Lyon in 1901
Hail cannons at the 3rd International Congress on Hail Shooting held in Lyon in 1901

21st Century

For the 2008 Olympics, China had 30 aircraft, 4000 rocket launchers, 7000 anti-aircraft guns to stop the rain. Each system fired various chemicals into any threatening cloud to reduce the raindrops before they reached the stadium.

TDC - The History of Weather Modification


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DeepDove: Nature Network (2021-09-21). Weather Engineering | History of Weather Engineering. Retrieved , from




This page was last changed on 2021-09-21.