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We have a question that covers what would happen if the world didn't have any wind. What I want to know is how we would get there in the first place. Given that we aren't using any magic, what would have to happen to the earth to stop all wind?

From what I have been able to find, wind is largely caused by differences in air pressure in the atmosphere due to temperature changes and the Coriolis effect due to the earth's rotation:

Wind is caused by differences in the atmospheric pressure. When a difference in atmospheric pressure exists, air moves from the higher to the lower pressure area, resulting in winds of various speeds. On a rotating planet, air will also be deflected by the Coriolis effect, except exactly on the equator.

- Wikipedia

Given this, it looks like we would have to both make the atmospheric temperature uniform and slowly reduce the rotation of the earth until it stopped (because doing it too quickly would have the opposite effect).

I'm sure there are other causes, so those would have to bee taken care of also.

How could this scientifically happen?

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    $\begingroup$ a non rotating earth would still have wind / one side heats the other side cools, or are you getting rid of the sun as well? / don't you know anything about convection currents? :) there's only one way to do it .. get rid of all the atmosphere .. no atmosphere no wind. $\endgroup$ – Pelinore Nov 23 '19 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Pelinore or get rid of the sun, of course. And cool the planet down to the temperature of the microwave background. You'd get to keep the atmosphere, only it would be a bit... crunchier than it is now. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Nov 23 '19 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ "Since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun" - C. M. Burns. Finally a GOOD reason for it! $\endgroup$ – user535733 Nov 23 '19 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ If you remove the atmosphere, you won't get wind. $\endgroup$ – Roberto Nov 23 '19 at 22:30
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Wouldn't freezing the atmosphere be pretty much the same as "getting rid of" it? $\endgroup$ – Snowshard Nov 24 '19 at 0:42
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You can't make the atmosphere's temperature uniform... you'll always be losing heat into space and the Earth is quite warm so air will always be heated from below. A temperature gradient will re-appear immediately, and you're back to square one.

Option one is therefore to cool the planet down until the atmosphere condenses out. No atmosphere, no wind. Cool it down far enough and everything will freeze so there will be no liquid currents, either. You'll need some kind of world-sized sunshade (perhaps at the L1 lagrange point) to keep the world in darkness for this to work, as well.

Option two is to partition the atmosphere into domes (or some other shape... triangular and pentagonal flat-topped cells would work OK if you preferred those) such that the space inside the domes is small enough that natural convection currents are too weak for you to class as wind. Dealing with the rest of the atmosphere outside the domes is left as an exercise to the reader.

Option three might be englobing the entire world with a heated roof to keep the air at a relatively uniform temperature regardless of altitude. This may result in overheating issues if you're not careful. You'll need the sunshade for this option, too.

Note that both methods happily remove the need to reduce the Earth's spin to zero, making everything at least a teeny tiny bit easier.

In the cases where a gaseous atmosphere remains in some form, volcanic activity or other violent events (like a meteor strike, if your world roof isn't strong enough) will still be able to kickstart wind again, at least for a while.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking about a hopelessly complex network of mirrors to light all the Earth at the same intensity all the time. I suspect Option 3 might be more realistic. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Nov 23 '19 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ For option 3, You’d still need to reduce Earth spin. Try spinning a snow globe. The inertia of the Earth’s rotation doesn’t drag all the gas at the same rate. As long as it is a gas, you have a problem if the atmosphere can freely move. $\endgroup$ – SRM Nov 23 '19 at 22:44
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Divide the atmosphere into rooms. If you build a lattice of rooms completely filling the atmosphere, then there is no place for wind to blow because each room is largely the same pressure. Doors between rooms allow passage from one room to the next (as long as only one door per room can be open at a time.

Stale air in rooms will become a problem over time, and I have no idea what material you would use to build this mega honeycomb structure, but it would give you no wind.

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Simple- strip away the atmosphere via collision with a large celestial body, and there's no air to form air currents!

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