This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.
Desert dwellers are familiar with “dust devils,” tornado-like phenomena that range in size from cute to terrifying. When the sun beats down on dry earth, the ground becomes hot. The surface air warms and rises, leaving behind an area of low pressure that draws in more air. Eventually, a circulating vortex of upwelling hot air forms, and the dust devil is born. Because they are fleeting and haphazard, they cannot be harnessed for energy. Instead, scientists have proposed creating their own dust devils. Continue reading