Re: Mother Nature
Sat, 18 Sep 1999 00:03:39 -0400

On Fri, 17 Sep 1999 07:18:43 -0700 (PDT) Brian D Williams <> writes:
> From:
> >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.
> <sigh> I'm not talking thermal, I'm talking the shockwave from an
> air blast. It has been calculated that we never need to build
> anything larger than a 100 megaton bomb because at 100 megatons it
> would blast a 10 mile in diameter chunk of atmosphere off into
> space... (Richard Rhodes books)
> Are you saying such a blast would have no effect?
> Obviously IMMHO a much smaller blast would do....
> Okay we need hurricane software and nuke software.....

Just as the thermal energy of a nuclear bomb is much smaller than the thermal energy associated with a hurricane, so the kinetic energy of a nuclear bomb is much smaller than the kinetic energy of a hurricane. A shock wave is just an acoustic pulse, or sound wave, which results in a temporary slight displacement of air molecules at any one place, even though the wave may travel for miles. It is somewhat like a tsunami which travels hundreds of miles across the ocean, but which only displaces water a short distance at any one place. The shockwave would travel through the hurricane with no effect on the weather system itself.

There would be a convective displacement of air where the bomb exploded (the 'mushroom cloud'), but that encompasses an area orders of magnitude smaller than the area of the hurricane, and would, I think, have no appreciable effect on the progress of the storm. And to what ever extent it did have an effect, it would seem more likely to intensify the storm than to mitigate it.

Now if there were no hurricane, but conditions were ripe for hurricane formation, a nuclear bomb could perhaps trigger a hurricane centered at the spot where it exploded, because the bomb would initiate a convective air flow.

Even though nuclear bombs are considered to very powerful, they are far less powerful than large weather systems. Large weather systems generally cause little damage compared to nuclear bombs, because the energy of the large weather system is distributed over a large area, whereas the bomb's effects are concentrated in a much smaller area. The energy which hits a city in the form of sunlight during one day is comparable to the energy which would be required to devastate the same city due to nuclear bombing.

Ron Kean




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