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I think we can predict with great accuracy what's the weather going to be in a small O'Neill cylinder since we get to control the humidity and air flows, etc but then a tiny variation in temperature could spell trouble brewing at one corner of the space habitat.

I suspect minute variations in temperature on the ground surface could easily spawn a vortex of hot air which can grow exponentially in size in no time, but I think the ingenious hardscape layout might help prevents it from happening in the first place.

Is there a way to control weather in a large enclosure? Could this set a limit for the size of each O'Neil Cylinder?

For hardscape I meant we have trees plantation to absorb most of the energy of winds and perhaps we could have tall infrastructures with pyramid roof design to dissipate the energy of wind thus preventing buildup of small vortexes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like Chaos Theory is going to be your friend... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jul 22 '20 at 12:44
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Is there a way to control weather in a large enclosure? Could this set a limit for the size of each O'Neil Cylinder?

If you want to control the weather you need only to control the energy gradients in the atmosphere: large gradients mean more energetic phenomena than small gradient.

Since you control the heat distribution in the cylinder, you also control the local energetic balance of each area and therefore the weather. E.g. avoiding having a large warm ocean below a colder atmosphere should be feasible, and would allow you to prevent having hurricanes. While on Earth we are not able to warm up the troposphere above the oceans to achieve the same result.

It's not that different (scale apart) of what happens in a closed room if you switch on a heater: the hotter the heater, the more vigorous will be the induced air circulation.

You will be helped by the fact that the upper layers of your atmosphere won't be facing space.

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