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Disque Hall 919, 32 South 32nd Street Philadelphia, PA 19104


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Physics Colloquium: Can We Eliminate the Major Tornado Threat in Tornado Alley?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

3:30 PM-4:30 PM

Rongjia Tao, PhD, professor of physics and department chair, Temple University


The 2013 devastating tornado attacks in Oklahoma, Illinois and other states in Tornado Alley raise an important question: Can we do something to eliminate the major tornado threat in Tornado Alley? Violent tornadoes in Tornado Alley start from the clash between northbound warm air flow and southbound cold air flow. As there is no mountain in Tornado Alley ranging from west to east to weaken or block the air flows, some clashes are violent, creating vortex turbulence called supercells. These supercells are initially in horizontal spinning motion at the lower atmosphere, and then tilt as the air turns to rise in the storm’s updraft, creating a component of spin around a vertical axis. About 30% of supercells develop into tornadoes, causing tremendous damages. Here we show that an east-west oriented great wall with 300 meter high and 50 meter thick can weaken or block such air mass clashes and diminish the major tornadoes in the circular area with the wall as its diameter. In order to eliminate the major tornado threat for the entire American Midwest, we need to have three such walls, one in North Dakota, one passing Oklahoma to east, and the third one in the south Texas and Louisiana. We may build such great walls at areas with frequent devastating tornado attacks first and then gradually extend them.

Contact Information

Associate Professor Goran Karapetrov, PhD