Re: Mother Nature
Thu, 16 Sep 1999 22:27:55 -0400

On Thu, 16 Sep 1999 10:46:35 -0700 (PDT) Brian D Williams <> writes:

> Okay, I suppose you could disrupt even a force 5 hurricane with a
> nuke of sufficient power, if there was sufficient need, drop in
> the center of the eye maybe, or against one of the walls, might not
> even need a megaton range weapon. The problem is off course the
> fallout. The interesting part is that in the eye, the wall of the
> hurricane would actually act to contain the blast.......hmmmmm

I seems unlikely that a nuclear bomb would have an appreciable effect on a hurricane in terms of increasing or decreasing its power. There would be plenty of dramatic effects, but no significant change in the power of the hurricane. If all the energy from a one megaton bomb were coupled into one cubic kilometer of water, the temperature of the water would increase by one degree Celsius. To put it another way, the thermal energy which is converted to kinetic energy by a hurricane in just a few minutes is far greater than the energy released by a nuclear bomb.

As you point out, it is bad for the environment to detonate nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. That fact alone would be sufficient reason to drop the plan. As an academic matter, it is difficult to imagine any specific method by which a hurricane could be significantly disrupted by a nuclear bomb. A hurricane is a heat engine running on the temperature difference between warm air near the surface of the ocean and cooler air higher up in the atmosphere. The warm air at lower levels is heated by the warm water on the surface of the ocean. The warm air tends to rise, and the cooler air tends to fall, and a vortex forms, as a vortex is more efficient at making the cool air change places with the warm air. The tendency to form a vortex is exacerbated by the Coriolis force, but a vortex would tend to form anyway even if there were no Coriolis force. Using a nuclear bomb to throw more heat into the system would seem more likely to result in a more powerful hurricane, not less. Now if the nuclear device(s) were used to heat the cool air sufficiently, that could bring the heat engine to a stop. But there is awful lot of cool air that would have to be heated, and the heating would be only temporary.

> <sound of scribbling on envelope or napkin>
> The dry ice idea has some merit too, you might not need cometary
> levels if you tried to intervene early enough, maybe a supertanker
> full with a spreader like a Chicago salt truck.......hmmmmmm
> <more scribbling>
> The key to determining when is local info, weather buoys in the
> hurricane belt, planes dropping those miniature remote sensor
> packages, a "Deep Thunder" weather processor....
> Brian

Warm surface water in the tropics and sub-tropics in the late summer and fall causes hurricanes. So if that water were cooler, hurricanes would be less likely to form. The surface water could be cooled by pumping cold water from the depths of the ocean to the surface. Even in the tropics, deep water is very cold, about 34 degrees F. That is because cold water from polar regions circulates to the tropics by means of underwater currents.

I takes relatively little energy per unit volume to pump deep ocean water to the surface, because of buoyancy. The energy to run the pump could be obtained from the temperature difference between the cold water and the warm water. That method of energy production has already been demonstrated in a 100 KW project (OTEC or FLOTEC). If the pumping were done on a large enough scale to prevent hurricanes, there would be serious consequences. For example the Gulf Stream's flow would be much reduced. That would produce a drastic climate change in Western Europe, especially in Britain and Ireland. The EU would complain to the UN, and if they did not obtain satisfaction the French would send saboteurs to disable the pumps.

Ron Kean




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