In a short story I am writing I have a magic system that involves nanotech left behind from an ancient advanced civilisation that can allow for magic like effects. In this story the characters primarily use this nanotechnology to control the weather by creating several weather phenomena like tornadoes, thunderstorms, blizzards, and hurricanes. However, I do not know if nanotechnology would ever have the capacity to impact the weather in the ways I have described.

This nanotech has spread across the entirety of earths atmosphere. Given the fact that I got a degree in creative writing and not in physics or technology I lack the knowledge of weather and nanotechnology so I apologise for any mistakes that I have made in my question. Also, this ancient civilisation had a tech level that is around a century ahead of the current world civilisations technology so inter dimensional technology that can cross universes would not exist at the time. So would nanotechnology be able to control the weather in any significant ways? Thank you guys in advance.

  • $\begingroup$ Bear in mind that unless your ancient civilization uses different laws of physics than we do, any nanites are going to be fragile and weak. They can't control the wind, they blow with it. Any intense heat would destroy them. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Commented Mar 27 at 5:32

2 Answers 2


The only thing I can think of, which might have an impact on the weather, is to have clouds of nanobots floating in the high atmosphere which can selectively become reflective or not.

When they are transparent, they let light through, and the energy reaches the ground as it would normally do.

When they become reflective, they bounce back light to space, removing it from the energetic balance of the underlying surface.

In the short term this would locally cool down the area upon which the cloud is active, in the medium long term it could be used to manipulate weather, though this might be tricky, considering how complex is the interaction of the various feedback and feedforward loops involved in what we call weather and climate.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you 😊. Also given the idea that the nanobots could become reflective is it possible for them to become something similar to a fresnel lens and act like a solar death ray? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27 at 4:58

I think it's more likely that free-floating nanobots would be swept away by the weather than have any control over it. Try filling the air with a cloud of nanites and they'd get washed away by the first decent rain. Try to keep them in a particular configuration and they'd get blown away by a gust of wind.

But if there were billions of them in the upper atmosphere, they could probably selectively adjust their density, reflectivity, opacity, etc. to block, filter, or concentrate sunlight in desired areas, affecting heat flow and large-scale weather patterns. You could cool a region down by dimming the sunlight, or focus or amplify it to accelerate a thaw, something like that. Or they could be used as nucleation particles to encourage cloud formation or precipitation, like real-life cloud seeding.

But if you're thinking about something like conjuring up a tornado or lightning storm at a moment's notice, that would never work in a science-based scenario. The processes that lead to such events happen on a very large scale over a considerable amount of time, so you'd probably need to start influencing weather patterns days or weeks in advance across a wide swath of the planet to produce desired weather conditions in a given area. And at most you'd be increasing the probability of the weather happening the way you want; weather is far too chaotic for results to be guaranteed.

If there were already a thundercloud overhead, it might be possible to line up a chain of nanites to form a conductive path for a lightning strike at a given point, or just build a high enough chain to act as a lightning rod. But you'd need to anchor them together through physical contact or some strong attractive force so they wouldn't get blown apart by wind or rain.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The lightning idea is extremely interesting. I will try to implement it $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27 at 4:29
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    $\begingroup$ It's the upstroke you need to facilitate with lightning, so nanites working from the ground are the only ones that could aid targeting. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Commented Mar 27 at 5:30

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