The Great Wall of Canada/America

Inspired by way too many hours watching dire weather forecasts AND a documenary on the Great Wall of China…
Canadians, those dethpicable wretches, are continually shooting huge masses of ‘Arctic Air’ at us poor Yankees. And this isn’t an innocent faux pas. Think of it: they are DELIBERATELY importing air from the Arctic that they don’t want for the EXPRESS purpose of disrupting our life! Why? Why? Are you still that mad over that little invasion a few centuries back? How petty.
Anyway, if they won’t mend their ways, I think it is time we take actions ourselves to put an end this crime, and the obvious way is to build a nice wall that will keep their air out.

The problem is the specs. The length is easy: roughly 3000 miles, along our joint border. The problem is height: how tall do we have to make it so these Montreal expresses are derailed into sliding along the wall until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean rather than piling up and pouring over the top like a breached dam?

I know the ‘atmosphere’ extends out quite a distance, but it things out rapidly, right? So a wall that reaches higher than whatever depth comprises 90% of the air volume should be adequate, right?

So…how tall is that?
BTW, I figure we can fund construction by selling rights for REALLY big advertising posters.

You do know that the so-called ‘Arctic’ air is really Alaskan air that makes its way eastwards and then south, right? If it wasn’t for this Alaskan air, all of Canada would have the banana-growing, palm-tree climate of southwestern BC!

But fine, fine. Build your silly wall. <snif> See what we care.

:: wanders off anticipating smog-free summers and clean northern skies ::

:: ahem ::
Getting back to the actual question in the OP, I would imagine that building The Wall as high as the tropopause (at, what, 14km altitude?) would block the surface flows. I’m not sure whether the jet stream is higher than that though.

Pilot-type here, not a weather expert as such …

The weather lives in a vertical layer called the troposhere, whose top varies from 30,000-ish feet at the poles in winter to 45-50,000 feet at the equater in summer. Above that level there’s very little temperature variation with latitude or with altitude.

So I’d bet a wall on the order of 40,000 feet (8 miles) tall would deflect most of the southbound cold. Good luck getting it built.

As SunSpace points out, you’d also need to put a north/south or NE/SW extension running out to sea aways from the Seattle area. Otherwise the cold air would end-run your wall. Wouldn’t that be a bummer?

Yeah, after all those years of making fun of the French for that whole Maginot Line thing…

If you guys do build it and need it painted, give me a call. I know a couple of college kids here in the neighborhood that need a little extra work this summer. They’re pretty handy.

How thick would such a wall have to be to be stable, and not fall down, raining stony death on the border cities?

I was thinking the neighborly thing for us to do would be to make it transparent…a wall of that size would cast a heck of a shadow otherwise. The advertisements could be translucent, maybe.

It wouldn’t need to be thick. It only has to hold back air*, after all. I always imagined it as being made of fabric on a frame. With guy wires.

Lots and lots of guy wires…

[sub]*And tornadoes. Don’t forget the tornadoes.[/sub]

Just make sure that the fabric is natural to appeal environmentalists and impassioned college students. I am imagining canvas coated in bee’s wax. Also, that thing is going to be one massive sail. Remember that question about all 1 billion+ Chinese jumping at the same time and disrupting the earth’s orbit? That is mere childs play. I think this massive sail will cause the earth to flip end over end instead of round and around. Now that would be a welcome change from the ordinary.

“Was that an earthquake we had last night?”
“I don’t know. But look! The sun is rising in the …north?”

Does a windbreak have to be solid? Couldn’t you build something like a REALLY tall snowfence? It wouldn’t prevent every breath of Canadian wind from hitting the U.S, but wouldn’t it be enough to change the wind patterns? Lessen the effect?

Impassioned college student speaking: Are you serious?! That wall would be massively (in)flammable; you’re proposing what’s basically a giant candle wick. Also, it’d melt in a hot summer. Translucency might be better achieved with plastic panels. Frosted, for privacy. Of course, the environmentalists won’t like it, but you can’t please everyone.

[This is definitely one of those threads that make these boards uniquely entertaining. :slight_smile: ]

One way to do it on the cheap: invite the artist-couple Christo & wife to do a *really big * installation… Although their engineering record isn’t perfect, what with that unfortunate umbrella mishap in California a while back.

Billboards aren’t the only revenue-raisers, either. That whole wall would have a southern exposure, and thus would be a good location for photovoltaic-cell arrays.

I’m wondering though if a truly large wall wouldn’t create some powerful updrafts and thermals on the U.S. side, as the wall absorbs solar radiation over the course of the day. It would probably be a good idea to coat the whole thing with a good radiant barrier that would reflect the solar rays back onto the US side and lessen that heat build-up.

An ancillary benefit to The Wall: blocking transmissions from Canadian radio stations, which, last I read, were still required to fulfil Canadian-music quotas.

Think technology folks!! You know, when you enter stores in cold weather that leave the doors open? That have huge heater fans that blow hot air down across the entrance and effectively create an air dam.

Instead, install super-huge heater fans all along the border that blow a hot air dam up! There’s no infrastructure that will collapse and fall, and it can be shut down for at least half the year. And when an unusually dangerous Artic blast approaches the border, it should be relatively easy to increase the strength of the air dam at that location and bounce that sucker back over the Pole to the Ruskies. Hell, no need for the DEW LIne anymore.

Of course, timing would be critical. Spring and autumn migration patterns would need to be figured in to the start and stop dates. After all, all those long dresses worn by those old ladies crossing the border on Thursday Bingo nights could create a morality storm if little children were present.

Powering it? Well, witch country should we invade now to take their oil and power the whole damn, er, dam thing?

Perhaps a system of reflective blinds could be used. Some sort of solar energy setup could be used, with the reflected light increasing the productivity. On occasion the Canadians might want some sun in the border region, and the blinds could be opened. Needless to say, they’d have to compensate us for the lost electrical generation.

This is going to drive up the construction cost. How about cutting some corners…[ul]
[li]How effective would a wall be that was only 20,000 feet high?[/li][li]How effective would a wall be that ended at the shore, not extending into the waters off Washington State? Seems to me we could sacrifice a little efficiency here: Washington is used to crappy weather, and wouldn’t most of the cold fronts get weakened by the time they made it to Chicago?[/li][/ul]

Isn’t this going to be a Very Bad Thing for air traffic that usually goes toward the Arctic to take advantage of the curvature of the Earth? I’m thinking about flights to Japan and Europe (and, um, of course… Toronto!)

Not to mention that us yanks ain’t gonna give up The Northwest Angle until you pry it from our cold dead hands!!

Woohoo! 2000[sup]th[/sup] post!!

Man, do you have any idea of what the wind loading would be on that thing? Wind loads are one of the biggest forces on tall buildings.

And it’s going to seriously mess with the Earth’s wind patterns.

But hey, it might be good for a laugh.

Yeah, I wanna see video footage of the entire city of Buffalo trying to find the edge to get out from under it after the thing blows over onto them.