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Gilded

Hurricanes? Nuke 'em!

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On another forum a user was joking about using nuclear weapons to divert or partially dissipate hurricanes. While it's perhaps the most unfeasible and the least environmental idea ever I think the idea is sort of interesting. I looked at some hurricane data, pulled out a few variables out of my ass (which I found to be common practice in this part of the forum), did a few energy conversions and came to the conclusion that the wind energy dissipated by a matured hurricane per day could perhaps be rivaled by a thermonuclear weapon in the 30Mt range. The energy dissipated through water condensation is much larger though, so I'm not sure how that fits in. Anyway, should a country choose to pre-emptively nuke a growing tropical storm, how should the nuclear blasts be positioned to optimally dissipate or divert the storm?

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nuclear blasts would likely just heat the water up putting more energy into the system and resulting in a stronger hurricane.

 

i'm not entirely sure a nuke would have much of an effect at all.

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It would look cool, I guess. Great news footage.

 

Storms are driven by heat from water condensation. The storm only dies when there is no more water to evaporate (i.e. over land, cold air drafts, etc). So the only way you could really kill the storm would be to stop the water from evaporating, or cool the storm down somehow.

 

On a related note, do storms noticeably weaken at night?

Edited by big314mp
grammar

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On a related note, do storms noticeably weaken at night?

 

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. At lot depends on the more local conditions. Remember Katrina strengthened considerably overnight. But, Ike has lost strength on several evenings. I think it has a lot more to do with what the surface temperature of the ocean water is and what the local condition the hurricane is moving into during the evening hours.

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I would have thought that they would show a fairly consistent diurnal variation, Upon thinking about what you have said, however, I realized that the water wouldn't get much sunlight during the day, anyways, due to the cloud cover. So the difference in radiative heating is considerably less than what I had originally thought.

 

Many thanks!

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I actually thought about something similar. A hurricane is created by warm, moist air trapped under colder air. The warm air goes upward, creating a vortex in the same way as pulling the plug from a sink (ie, conservation of angular momentum). The hurricane gains strength over warm water due to the evaporation and warming of the air on the bottom.

 

Anyhow, I thought of three possibilities:

The first is to create a second vortex, which might deflect or drain power from the initial vortex. This might be accomplished with a large fire or explosion.

The second possibility would be to plug up the vortex, eg by squirting lots and lots of water up the vortex. That might be enough to temporarily weaken or stop the vortex.

The third would be to smother the hurricane, by preventing the warm waters below from moistening and/or warming the air. A thin film of (biodegradable) oil might do the trick. I think I heard of something similar with respect to normal wind as well.

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I had thought about an oil slick, then realized that was just substituting one problem for another. I hadn't thought of a biodegradable oil, but combined with a biodegradable detergent, that may be viable. Of course, that very heavily depends on the cost of the oil, as large quantities will be needed.

 

Your best bet may be rebuilding the bayous around coastal regions, as that provides a relatively permanent solution to some areas.

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Oil on water burns very smokily, and is quite incomplete. A thin layer of relatively nonvolatile oil would probably not even light.

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I read of this idea years ago, I believe it was first put forward in the 50s or 60s. The idea was to detonate the weapon and disrupt the air wall of the hurricane.

 

As I understand it, the idea was deemed unfeasable because a weapon in the 50-100 megaton range would be required. Nothing smaller would disrupt the wall for a large enough distance to prevent the wall from reforming.

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how about air dropping tons of Ammonium Nitrate powder down the middle of it?

that will turn hot humid air into cold ice particles and stop the mechanism.

 

ok it would cause the algea in the sea/ocean to bloom, but that can`t be any worse than radioactive dust!

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Sweet Jesus, That would be insanity! It'd be pretty cool, but the winds would surely just start throwing chunks of ice at the poor people spraying the liquid Nitrogen - surely flying above the clouds and trying to kill it from above would be the best option.

 

I have a friend who always thought it would be cool to build a giant fan to redirect the storm, but I had to wonder if there wasn't something we could do to to the clouds to get it to slow or dissapate.

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surely flying above the clouds and trying to kill it from above would be the best option.

 

that would have the opposite effect.hurricanes are like heat engines, increase the temperature difference and increase the power of it. the top is the cold part so cooling that down will just make it stonger.

 

you want to cool down the hot bit which is at the bottom.

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That's true, my bad.

 

How about a submarine with Liq. N torpedos? They would have to be massive to do any damage, but you would still have a significant cooling cooling factor.

 

My brain doesn't work right whilst I'm at work actually, let me go do some research, I'll be back!

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planes could carry more overall as it is trivial for them to fly back to base, load up with more and get back in in a few hours.

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Indeed, I would think an underwater shot would be more accurate, but at that point I guess you'd be really just aiming for an area of effect.

 

Preventative maintanence is the best strategy, it might take a little more than 10% of the world economy, but I say we keep the atlantic at a nice even 45 F

 

:doh:

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If you're using liquid nitrogen, you would want to hit the surface of the water. However, I have my doubts that a thin layer of ice would last long in the warm waters, but with enough of it it would kill the hurricane. However, I think a foam would be more effective, since you can increase it's volume significantly (aka carry more), it would provide both thermal insulation and prevent evaporation, and it wouldn't evaporate.

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Perspective is a funny thing. Nuclear weapons certainly seem like a big deal, don't they?

 

The Wikipedia article on hurricanes cites a research study suggesting that the amount of energy they produce is the equivalent of 10 megatons every 20 minutes. And of course they go on for a week or two, sometimes longer.

 

Reminds me of some of the Ringworld problems, where Louis Wu's always struggling with the scale of the thing.

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Nobody has yet made the perennial suggestion to soak up the water using one of those super absorbent polymer things (similar to the stuff used in diapers).

 

So I'll suggest it :).

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I'll go get my air pump. Maybe if everyone just held their breath?

 

I think the premise was to disrupt the storm in one area, so that the whole thing falls apart. Sort of a butterfly effect type of deal.

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I read (Scientific American maybe?) something about this but the authors were looking more at changing the course of the storm than quashing it. One thing that is sure, the consequences of "nuking" a hurricane are likely to be at least as bad as the hurricane. It just seems more responsible to build things to withstand hurricanes in the first place.

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