We’re rewarding the question askers & reputations are being recalculated! Read more.

Hot answers tagged

60

Getting caught in a thunderstorm is the most likely cause. This can happen even to experts if they are incautious enough to take risks with the weather. Here's an example with a paraglider. (I'll see what I can find for a hang-glider) Ewa Wisnierska was sucked into a powerful thunderstorm while training for the world paragliding championships in ...


58

Let's say your magical sphere has radius $r$ of 10km (so just poking up into the outer atmosphere) and is at a temperature $T$ of 1,250K (so glowing a nice warm yellow). The total radiative heat flux from the sphere is given by: $$ Q = \sigma T^{4}. 4\pi r^2 \approx 1.7 \times 10^{14} \mathrm{W} $$ Where $\sigma$ is the Steffan-Boltzman constant. A ...


52

The eye is a region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones. The eye of a storm is a roughly circular area. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. In strong tropical cyclones, the eye is characterized by light winds and clear skies, surrounded on ...


51

Let's assume for a moment that there are bacteria living in clouds. These have to feed on something, but nutrition in clouds is scarce. The chances of collecting molecules with nutritional value increase with the surface area that can be used to collect them. Sometime during the endless evolution some bacteria managed to excrete a slimy substance that can ...


51

A wobbling pulsar will do the trick. Pulsars emit a lot of energy in narrow beams that come from their poles. The slowest ones flash every few seconds; make its tilt wobble so that it is not pointing at the planet all the time. In addition, wobbling causes the pulsar to shoot at different points of the planet's orbit through time. The planet is hit when the ...


39

Your desert glass pebbles are volcanic glass. In the US they are called Apache Tears. source These are unpolished, as found in the desert. When polished they are a very beautiful deep black and suitable for use in jewelry. Some of the round ones in this image ones look pretty close to that without polishing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_tears ...


38

Supernova. A type II-P supernova maintains a fairly constant brightness for several months, and one at an appropriate distance (something like 500 light years) will be as bright as the full Moon for that time period. It will need to be on the opposite side of your planet from its own star, as seen from where the planet is in its orbit. Betelgeuse will do the ...


37

Decrease Gravity Explanation: The water droplets we experience on earth are mostly so small because of gravity: when a water droplet becomes too big, gravity rips it apart before it can get bigger (like when you're not quite closing a tap, the only reason it doesn't get bigger is because the mass of the droplet is bigger than the force "gluing" the water to ...


37

What keeps my planet's water from irreversibly concentrating over time on the frigid wastes while the rest of the planet dries up? When ice piles up, it will exercise pressure. The closer to the terminator, the less the ice. As a consequence, pressure gradient will tend to push the ice sheet toward the terminator, where it will melt, returning water to the ...


35

For one thing, natural bushlands would get overgrown. Anyone who listens to world news knows that the south west of the US; California and Arizona especially, are prone to bushfires. So is most of the Australian outback where there is natural bushland areas. In Australia particularly, some species of tree are so integrated with the natural fire cycle that ...


34

There are 3 types of natural glass: obsidian (volcanic glass), impactite (meteor glass), and fulgurite (lightning glass). Naturally round impactite is virtually unheard of. Impactite tends to have strong striations in the direction of impact that gives it more of a cleaved shape. It is also very rare for it to be transparent. Technically, a round ...


33

Eucalyptus trees can form bubbles when it rains Combine a eucalyptus grove with rain and a high wind that blows the bubbles away as soon as they form and you have a rain of bubbles somewhere down the line. Video - Why do trees blow bubbles?


33

Salt. Also, ice. But not the normal kind. Cloud seeding is a pretty cool technique, and involves blasting ions into clouds to make them rain. Normal salt (sodium chloride) is effective, but there are a few others which make for more effective draconic breath weapons, like calcium chloride (eye irritant), silver iodide (also an eye irritant) or solid carbon ...


27

The remains of an ancient Dyson swarm Not quite natural, but mostly non-technological. If a prior civilization had constructed a Dyson swarm around the system's star, the light coming from the star might be heavily occluded. Assume the sun is >10X hotter than ours (or the planet is much closer in), and there are enough collector bodies in the swarm to ...


25

Pollution will do the trick for you. For the record, Brazil has the largest raindrops on Earth, in its northern region - right where people burn a soccer field area worth of forest per day to make room for farming lands. Some scientists such as Peter Hobbs think that the smoke causes water to condense onto raindrops of up to 1 centimeter in length. Source: ...


24

It's quite hard to make this a permanent event, mostly it will only apply when the weather is calm, but it can certainly be a regular and lethal event. Let me introduce the Great Smog of London. The Great Smog of London, or Great Smog of 1952, was a severe air-pollution event that affected the British capital of London in early December 1952. A period of ...


24

Air pollution can heavily limit visibility. Look at Beijing: in days where the smog is heavy visibility is very limited. Since you are setting your world in medieval time, have a lot of coal and wood to be burned. The resulting pollution of the atmosphere will do what you are asking for. Climate can also help: fog, lack of winds, thermal inversion can ...


23

The upper size of raindrops is set by the strength of surface tension compared to the forces that batter them, mostly wind due to falling(*). This is hard to scale up indefinitely, so under terrestrial conditions they will likely remain less than 8.8 mm. Another solution is to do something like Hal Clement's classic sf novel Close to critical (1964) where ...


21

Primary issue with living in the desert is lack of water. Dwarven build is well suited for storing water. Their round bodies with healthy amounts of fat should store lots of water. Low surface area should reduce loss of water. Dwarfs are generally said to like working at a forge, which implies they can tolerate hot conditions fairly well without sweating ...


21

Librations. That is, the tidally locked planet is not in a perfectly circular orbit, and so the portion of the planet that is sun-facing is not constant. This is because the rate of rotation is (extremely nearly) constant, but the rate of revolution around the sun changes due to the non-circular nature. For the Earth's Moon, this is only a few degrees. If ...


20

Yes. The eye of a terrestrial hurricane, no matter what size, is a zone of calm winds and relatively clear skies around which whirls the raging tempest. The picture shows what it's like inside a hurricane's Eye. Nice and calm, trees are happy, not a lot of rain or wind. This is the accompanying video, courtesy of Hurricane Michael. If your hypercane ...


20

While the weather in the eye is calm and possible to live in, there are big sea waves from the storm. The coasts would be uninhabitable and fishing impossible. If there are major rivers, large ocean waves and swells tend to propagate upriver. The island would need protection, such as coastal cliffs from hard rock which does not erode easily. Or perhaps ...


20

Ozone levels in the atmosphere would be reduced Lightning is the major producer of ozone and NOx in the atmosphere. No lightning means less ozone means more UV light gets through. Basically life on the planet would get much harder to survive. lightnings-role-in-ozone-formation


19

Decyl glucoside One fun idea would be a new generation of planes. Explanation : In order to create bubbles in the sky the presence of surfactant molecules are needed. One natural surfactant molecule used in shampoo is called "Decyl glucoside". It is obtained by the reaction of glucose from corn starch with the fatty alcohol decanol which is derived from ...


19

So long as the design of the bog area allows: high water run-off from the hills, is a shallow dirt-and-biomatter-filled basin that collects the water and enough erosion has taken place to fill that shallow basin with fertile soil. Then yup, I've no problem with this. And the proof in the pudding are the blanket bogs of the Scottish uplands. They're even ...


15

You cannot: the size of a world is so large that, even with an extremely narrow statistical distribution of physical values, you will end up with noticeable differences, which would not emerge on a lab size environment. At most you can scale up the lab environment to the size of a small building, but as you get larger than that, statistics will beat you.


15

Bring in a desert-dwelling animal or insect. There can be two ways to do this. One is have an animal/insect attracted to the glass itself. Depending on what it's made of, there could be minerals in it the animal needs, but the rest of the glass is useless or even poison. So the animal breaks off the glass and swallows it, leeching out the appropriate ...


14

To add to the other answer which mentions air pollution, here's a possible cause of the pollution: Volcanic ash. You mentioned that your country is on the coast and that it spans into the continent. As shown by the following diagram, volcanoes occur in mostly coastal regions: This means your country could have a string of volcanoes along its coast. If the ...


13

A volcano may have erupted that sent a lot of fine ash onto the upper atmosphere. However, unlike the volcanoes on Earth and due to a different chemical makeup, this volcano's ash did not keep sunlight from coming in. It also refracted light reasonably well, and by night the air over the terminator and towards the night side refracted and reflected a ...


13

Have an axis tilt [1] over 56° or under 124° Between these points the poles and the equator switch climate. Technically speaking the poles simply have a higher thermal insolation average per year than the equator. This graphic [5] shows the relationship between axial tilt (obliquity) and the yearly average temperature (insolation) for a given latitude. ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible