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Hamstring hurricanes via oil slicks

No evaporation = no hurricane power
  (+4)
(+4)
  [vote for,
against]

This scheme is from my (linked) answer here on the world building stack exchange. There is always a need for snarky but well informed answers there. On the off chance anyone here has a surfeit of such.

Hurricanes cool down the ocean by facilitating evaporation. Evaporation of a liquid carries heat away from that liquid. We facilitate evaporation of a hot cup of coffee by blowing on it and so offering more air into which the coffee might evaporate and so cool. Hurricanes facilitate evaporation 3 ways.

1: Warm air. Warm air can carry more moisture than cold air.

2. Low pressure air. Hurricanes have low pressure air. The lower the pressure in the overlying air the easier it is for water to evaporate off and stay there.

3. Air exchange. Just like blowing on your coffee, the air exchange caused by the hurricane offers new air, not saturated with water, to come in and remove evaporate from the ocean surface.

The net effect: the circumstances of the hurricane make a feedforward loop which allows the hurricane to take more heat energy from the ocean and build in strength. This is why hurricanes Peter out once they get over land.

But disrupting that loop - how to do it... You would need to prevent evaporation from the ocean surface over a large area.

You could achieve that with an enormous oil slick. Water cannot evaporate up through an overlying layer of oil. In the Gulf War the Iraqis produced a 4000 square mile oil slick. That might be enough.

One might protest that oil is bad. For seagulls, yes, but oil eating microbes will rejoice. Rebuilding is also bad.

bungston, Sep 09 2017

Worldbuilding Stack question https://worldbuildi...a-humanoid-creature
[bungston, Sep 09 2017]

https://www.newscie...-by-global-warming/ [xenzag, Sep 09 2017]

Oil on the Water https://www.newscie...ay-stop-hurricanes/
From 12 years ago... [neutrinos_shadow, Sep 10 2017]

More Oil on the Water https://philiporton...r-heat-gulf-waters/
Another study, from 2011 [neutrinos_shadow, Sep 10 2017]

Or the oil could make it worse... http://edition.cnn.....worries/index.html
Does the heating counteract the evaporation loss? [neutrinos_shadow, Sep 10 2017]

Campaign from last year https://herox.com/Stop-Hurricanes
It's everywhere! [neutrinos_shadow, Sep 10 2017]

4 out of 5 doctors agree... https://www.vox.com...mate-politics-farce
or 97% or whatever... [RayfordSteele, Sep 11 2017]

[link]






       Can we set fire to it ?
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       I don't know if it would work or not, but there are probably better things to use than oil.   

       What you want is a chemical that is cheap, floats on water and doesn't dissolve, and is either biodegradeable (more so than regular oil), UV-degradeable, or evaporates slowly (over days) as a non-harmful vapour.   

       How much would you need? Well, the minimum needed is a single molecular layer. Single-molecule layers will form readily - it's a classic school experiment to estimate the size of an oil molecule. So, suppose the layer is 10nm thick (that's a fairly long molecule). And the area is, let's say, 10^6 square km, or 10^12 square metres.   

       That gives you a total volume of 10^4 cubic metres, or say 10,000 tonnes of your compound. This is a tiny fraction of what a big tanker can carry. Even if the cost were £100 per tonne, you're still looking at only £1M, which seems less than the cost of reroofing every building.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2017
  

       // What you want is a chemical that is cheap, floats on water and doesn't dissolve, and is either biodegradeable (more so than regular oil), UV-degradeable, or evaporates slowly (over days) as a non-harmful vapour. //   

       ... and has a low flashpoint.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       [+] suitably insane.   

       Also good for getting rid of all those pesky aerobically inclined fish.
FlyingToaster, Sep 09 2017
  

       That's not the case. A thin enough layer of a hydrophobic compound will not have any significant impact on oxygenation, even if it stayed around for long enough.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2017
  

       What if it's on fire ? It won't be there long ...
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       //You would need to prevent evaporation from the ocean surface over a large area.//   

       This would require a lot of forward planning. Surely a smaller slick on fire could be used to steer or disrupt it ?   

       Might as well try something with Jose, for example set fire to one of the islands seeing as they are no longer habitable. What's the worst that can happen ?
bigsleep, Sep 09 2017
  

       An environmental disaster, the deaths of thousands if not millions of humans, permanent disruption of the climate, economic collapse, global thermonuclear warfare, starvation, disease, a new dark age, cannibalism, incest, and finally a planet dominated by mutated cockroaches ?
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       So first fuck up the climate with man made global warming, created by the overconsumption of fossile fuels, then when that generates catastrophic hurricanes, use the same fuels to fuck up the ocean in a feeble effort to counter the first disaster? Am I missing something here? A better idea is to watch from a safe distance as hurricane after hurricane tears its way through Tumpsville, and laugh as he maintains that it's all just a Chinese made hoax. Slow learners require a patient teacher.
xenzag, Sep 09 2017
  

       [xen], mon amie, in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire hurricanes hardly ever happen. However, in other less well organized parts of the world they do happen. They have always happened, and they will continue to always happen.   

       The latest headline hurricane is said to be the most powerful in that region for the last 100 years.   

       What that means is that an even more powerful hurricane hit that area 100 years ago.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2017
  

       So the fact that they are increasing in strength due to a rise sea water temperature in the Golf Of Mexico is a Chinese hoax after all? That's great news. Let's all move to Florida or Houston (what's left of it). Ps my home town created a world beating hurricane that has never been equaled.
xenzag, Sep 09 2017
  

       //An environmental disaster, the deaths of thousands if not millions of humans, permanent disruption of the climate, economic collapse, global thermonuclear warfare, starvation, disease, a new dark age, cannibalism, incest, and finally a planet dominated by mutated cockroaches ?// Will there still be non-Frankenstein GM cauliflowers to eat? I like a bit of boiled cauliflower but not the GM type that gives you brain maggots.
xenzag, Sep 09 2017
  

       You'll have to ask the cockroaches ...   

       // they are increasing in strength //   

       Are they, though ?   

       Show us the data ...what happened before 1606, when civilization finally reached America ?   

       Accurate records cover, at best, 300 years. The atmosphere is dynamic and - in the narrow mathematical sense - chaotic. Climatic cycles operate over many milennia, possibly much longer. Solar activity is known to have a huge impact and is very poorly understood.   

       So the temperature is rising ? 10kyears ago there was glaciation of the Northern hemisphere ... why did that stop ?   

       Facts. Where are the facts ? Not theories, not projections based on a minuscule data set. Actual proper evidence.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       //So the fact that they are increasing in strength//   

       But, if you read the words between the start and end of my previous annotation, you will find that the contrary is true.   

       Every weather event is always said to be "the worst for fifty years", or "the worst for a century" or whatever. I appreciate that the French are not strong on mathematics or deductive logic, but this means that there was a worse one fifty years ago or a century ago.   

       No doubt if we're hit by an asteroid, it will be "the worst one since the end of the Cretaceous", and global warming will be cited as the cause.   

       I appreciate that the arguments can be difficult to grasp, [xen], but it's well worth stepping down off your Perrier-box briefly and making the effort.   

       //before 1606, when civilization finally reached America ?// Wait - what???
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2017
  

       It left again in 1776, and hasn't been back.   

       // the arguments can be difficult to grasp //   

       More generally, that is due to the lack of understanding by non- scientists of the essence of scientific method.   

       There are theories that explain observed phenomena. They are "true" but only for a given value of "true".   

       A century ago, your species largely thought that continental land masses were fixed and immutable. On the basis of new evidence, it was then deduced that they bob around on a layer of molten rock like turds* in a swimming pool. Further research has confirmed the ability of the model to predict behavior.   

       But it's a model, with a given value of "true". Until there's a climatological model that works reliably, that explains and preducts observed phenomena, and that is accepted by a consensus , then it's nothing but hot air.   

         

       *In the case of Australia, the analogy is literally true.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       Do we need to post the xkcd hockey stick again that lists all said major climate shifts?
RayfordSteele, Sep 09 2017
  

       Ok Max in your new role as Trump advisor, we hear you're learning to speak in Mandarin so that the Chinese can more fully appreciate the ownership of their global warming hoax. Meanwhile, good luck convincing yourself that hurricanes are decreasing in strength. Think I'll stick with the climate scientists on that one. You're too fond of glugging down that Agent Orange to keep your boss happy to see clearly now. Got to keep feeding those hungry GM brain maggots! Ha
xenzag, Sep 09 2017
  

       "Hurricane Irma has the strongest winds of any hurricane to form in the open Atlantic, with sustained wind speeds of 295 kph." See last link. Case closed.
xenzag, Sep 09 2017
  

       Isn't this local versus global. No matter where on the temperature scale you are, if you turn a heater on, you will effect the locality.   

       So all that tarmac, tree loss, hot little vehicle streaks, smoke stacks, quirky energy changes and the myriad of little boxes is insignificant in a scale overview look but effects us with micro-local changes. My feeling is the weather is more choppy because of what we have done.
wjt, Sep 09 2017
  

       Yes, because a century ago there were lots of ships out in the open atlantic measuring windspeed.   

       Also, mon amie, for the record I should point out that my boss is a superbly agreeable chap and we see eye to eye on many things.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2017
  

       // of any hurricane to form in the open Atlantic //   

       ... since accurate records began to be kept.   

       When was that exactly, [xen] ? To the nearest decade ?   

       Accurate pressure-plate anemometers were developed in the late 18th century, the more familiar cup anemometer not until 1846. Even then, their use wasn't widespread.   

       So in reality, meaningful, accurate records of wind velocities before 1850 can't exist.   

       What makes Irma so special ? The wind velocity may or may not be exceptional. In the first half of the last century, there were no hurricane-hunting aircraft; if a hurricane came, they very sensibly ran away.   

       There are more data, and those data are of better quality. The problem is that in climatological terms, they're no more that a flash photo. There are very few sporting events whose outcome can be accurately predicted by studying half a dozen frames taken halfway through.   

       It's very windy. People agree on that. When you can come along and say when and where the next hurricane but three will make landfall, and what its windspeeds will be within reasonable error bounds, then you can make a case.   

       Stating the bleedin' obvious isn't helpful, and doesn't convince anyone.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       If there's global warming, how come everyone's summers were longer and hotter when they were children?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2017
  

       I've thought about that very perception of time speeding up as we,get older, and have three things to offer:   

       1: perhaps we thought faster as children with many more neuron connections doing random things before we stopped entertaining the less useful ones. 2: As adults, each additional year is a much smaller percentage addition to our overall lives, whereas when we were young and impressionable, each one was a major milestone. 3: we did nothing but smell the roses all day long.   

       You probably don't have to gather 100 years worth of data to state that this was roughly the strongest storm in 100 years or so. Statistics become predictable like that given enough sample data.
RayfordSteele, Sep 09 2017
  

       100 years is a long time to a human, but a negligible period to a planet.   

       Statistics are useful, indeed essential. As the sample window gets larger, so their accuracy increases.   

       Consider a motor race. You are provided with 10 seconds of video, after 5 laps, of a 10 lap race, in which all the cars pass the camera.   

       You could bet on the outcome based on the car positions you have seen, but you'd most probably lose. Maybe the best driver has just had a pit stop and is at the back of the pack. Maybe the current leader will have a gearbox failure. Maybe No.2 will hit a patch of oil and spin out ...   

       If, however, you have watched the first 5 laps, your ability to predict the outcome will be better. Far from perfect - but better. After 9 laps, you can probably be fairly accurate. But your observation, from your original 10 seconds of video, that the fastest car you saw that day was travelling at 200 km/h, is valid in its context, but actually meaningless - yesterday, a different class of car was racing at 300 km/h on the same circuit. Tomorrow, the highest speed might be 120 km/h.   

       But because you didn't observe that, effectively it didn't happen ...
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       I'm actually amazed that so many people on the halfbakery whom I had previously thought of as being intelligent beings turn out to be global warming deniers and Trumpspeak devotees, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. It's a bit depressing and disappointing actually, but then dumbing down is everywhere, even on the HB. I find myself no longer amongst like minded company, and it's time for me to walk away, for a while anyway.
xenzag, Sep 09 2017
  

       // global warming deniers and Trumpspeak devotees, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence //   

       Global warming is an observed fact and is not disputed.   

       But is it anthropogenic ? Or are there other mechanisms at work ? If so, what are they ?   

       The evidence is not "overwhelming " because there is ,as yet,so little of it, and no sound theoretical basis to underpin conclusions.
8th of 7, Sep 09 2017
  

       What is it about the climate change / global warming debate that polarises people's opinions so strongly?   

       To many people, no grey areas, differences of opinion, or even attempts at objective analysis are permitted. Either you believe, 100% and unfailingly, in the anthropogenic explanation, or you're a "global warming denier and Trumpspeak devotee". Why is this?   

       Can we really learn anything useful about the climate by herding together at the extremes and throwing insults at each other? Surely this is the complete opposite of scientific reasoning? Surely the grey areas and debatable bits are where all the enlightenment is to be found?   

       "You're either with us or against us". Hmm - I'm sure I've heard that somewhere before...
Wrongfellow, Sep 10 2017
  

       Is there an equivalent to Godwin's law for Trump?   

       Anyway, getting back toward the subject, in terms of CO2 release, does spreading oil over the water surface where it will eventually get broken down release just as much CO2 as burning it? And how much CO2 gets released in the process of rebuilding after the hurricane?
scad mientist, Sep 10 2017
  

       I'm picturing an unmanned fleet of robust, scavenging, raft- mounted wind turbines following the hurricane around and leaching energy from it. A few awkward moments will occur when the hurricane makes landfall, so the devices will be programmed to apologize profusely when they crash through someone's roof.
pertinax, Sep 10 2017
  

       //What is it about the climate change / global warming debate that polarises people's opinions so strongly? //   

       I've often wondered that. It is a great pity, because it's an interesting and important question, and yet it has become a religion rather than a focus for rational enquiry.   

       I might well be wrong, and those who believe in anthropogenic climate change might well be wrong, but neither side is allowed to express any doubts over their entrenched view.   

       The phrase "climate change denier" was explicitly modelled on the phrase "holocaust denier", to demonize those who are not convinced by the evidence to date. The result, of course, is further entrenchment and polarization. Witness [xen] who is so enraged that someone can disagree about climate change that she feels she has to leave.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 10 2017
  

       // but neither side is allowed to express any doubts over their entrenched view. //   

       On the contrary. The "deniers" are ,quite reasonably, expressing doubt as to the meaning of the available evidence, and are by and large open to persuasion.   

       It's the "believers" who seem to treat it as an article of faith.   

       [Wrongfellow] had it about right.   

       Perhaps, due to the decline of religious belief in the face of the inexorable advance of pragmatic rationalism, some humans need something else to believe in ? UFOs, ley lines, homeopathy ...every fad has its day.   

         

       // does spreading oil over the water surface where it will eventually get broken down release just as much CO2 as burning it? //   

       No. With crude oil, when it's digested by scavenging bacteria, some of the carbon is retained in their structures as they grow and divide.Lighter fractions evaporate and eventually oxidise, but not directly into CO2. Heavier fractions hydrolyse,agglutinate,and sink.
8th of 7, Sep 10 2017
  

       I read that those Atlantic based hurricanes start with dry air coming from the Sahara. The dry air could become moist if the Sahara was turned into a green area. Not sure whether the problem would simply be shifted somewhere else.
Ling, Sep 10 2017
  

       I refuse to believe that stockings and fishnet tights exist.
Ian Tindale, Sep 10 2017
  

       Well, durr, [Ian].
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 10 2017
  

       // I refuse to believe that stockings and fishnet tights exist //   

       Interesting ...   

       Consider the situation where you have never physically encountered, say, a coconut.   

       You have been told that there are these objects called coconuts. You have seen photographs, and the characteristics of coconuts have been described to you. However, "coconut" remains just a word.   

       You can at this point make the choice to believe or disbelieve in coconuts. You have no evidence, only images and descriptions. It is a perfectly valid position to disbelieve in coconuts, because they are purely hypothetical. You have no proof.   

       You then travel to a Carribean island, where coconuts allegedly grow. You find a devastated landscape with wrecked buildings and extensive flooding. When you enquire about coconuts, the ragged survivors throw rocks at you.   

       You continue your travels (after seeking appropriate medical attention) to an area that has not just been devastated by a hurricane. You enquire about coconuts. You are shown tall trees, and are offered rough, brownish, ovoid objects which you are informed are coconuts; and indeed they corresponding to the photographs and descriptions.   

       At this point, your options are limited.   

       You can accept the existance of coconuts, based on personal observations. Your belief is entirely replaced by knowledge. You are justified in saying to others "Coconuts exist" and describing them.   

       You can retreat to a Solipsist position where you assert "I am imagining this. Coconuts do not exist."   

       Or you can deny that what you have seen are coconuts, but merely props produced by the special effects team just to deceive you.   

       The point is that, unless you wish to claim false memory syndrome, once you have seen an actual coconut, belief is no longer an option. The choices are only acceptance or denial.   

       Eventually, we hope to remember the point we were intending to make when we started to write this.
8th of 7, Sep 10 2017
  

       Coconuts are smooth and green. Except the ones that accompanied August Darnell (Kid Creole), which were stylish and sexy.
Ian Tindale, Sep 10 2017
  

       <Collective head-scratching>   

       Erm ... was it something about a tree falling in a forest and killing a mime ... ?
8th of 7, Sep 10 2017
  

       Instead of forming accusations against the majority of the scientific community as being sheep led by some well-intended but mistaken climate zealots who despite being scientists, somehow haven't thought through the possibilities of their chosen field and craft, why don't we postulate a hypothesis as to how the hockey-stick so well overlaps the anthropogenic/industrial era in which we live. You know, the same era that has so radically transformed the earth in other ways?
RayfordSteele, Sep 10 2017
  

       That would be interesting but not necessarily useful.   

       The "end" of the "hockey stick" graph represents a few hundred years.   

       Climatic cycles operate over thousands, indeed millions, of years.   

       Maybe there's a confusion between cause and effect - is it not possible that rising temperatures may have somehow facilitated industrial development ?   

       It's the same problem with forecasting volcanic eruptions. Volcanos don't operate on human timescales. A volcano that erupts every 1000 years is, in geological terms, in continuous eruption.   

       The objection is that both sides of the argument are trying to draw conclusions from a data set that is too small and inaccurate to be useful.
8th of 7, Sep 10 2017
  

       The problem is not just with the data, but with the models. So far, every single model has been invalidated as soon as its predictions have been around long enough to be tested.   

       Each time a prediction is proven wrong, the argument is always "yes, but our models are better now". However, there is no evidence to suggest that the models are actually getting better.   

       Climates are complicated things.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 10 2017
  

       What we need is to model the modelling of models. Then we'd know how far we have to go.
Ian Tindale, Sep 10 2017
  

       I think some comprehension of the scale of error is required at this point.   

       Newtonian physics is absolutely, undeniably incorrect, but still much better than what came before it, and stil preferred by engineers everywhere.   

       We're not at the level of precision of quantum theory or relativity on climate change, but we are at least well past the alchemy stage.
RayfordSteele, Sep 10 2017
  

       //Climatic cycles operate over thousands, indeed millions, of years.//   

       I pointed out before that its hugely chaotic system - like a multidimensional buckaroo game.   

       Nutrients changing in the ocean - give temperature a slight nudge and watch algal blooms change the albedo of earth.   

       Massive die-off of biological material - wait a few million years and its going to reach the surface and catch fire whether someone digs it up or not.   

       New fad for electric cars - massive need for new steel, batteries etc. CO2 rises, increased storm activity, shoals of fish struck by lightning, solar mirror made from corpses of dead fish leading to a satellite blown up, Kessler sydrome, loads of bad movies, mass suicide, sun blocked out and less money spent, nuclear winter, the end.   

       If the models don't work, they've probably missed many kinds of CO2 batteries or other chaotic elements, especially biological blooms. Insect plagues for example tend to occur every decade or so, as do sunspots. So how many 100's or 1000's of factors are there affecting climate ?
bigsleep, Sep 10 2017
  

       This idea has been proposed before (out in the Real World).
See linky.
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 10 2017
  

       Thanks for coming back to the scheme at hand, _neutrinos_. In the article they state "surfactant". Which is not exactly oil. I get the oil idea (as stated here!) but not the surfactant, which I think is soap.
bungston, Sep 10 2017
  

       //The dry air could become moist if the Sahara was turned into a green area.//   

       Refill Mega-lake Chad? The area's in need of a more active sailing scene.   

       //Each time a prediction is proven wrong, the argument is always "yes, but our models are better now".//   

       In all fairness, the models are demonstrably better. They're done in a newer version of Excel, with pastel shading, conditional formating and all sorts.   

       //If the models don't work, they've probably missed many kinds of CO2 batteries or other chaotic elements, especially biological blooms.//   

       The models don't work because there aren't many working models of anything complex and messy, we can't satisfactorily model one heartbeat, even one action potential.. actually even a small group of ion channels is beyond us. That's in a system where we can directly measure anything we want, change anything we want and run it 1000's of times.
bs0u0155, Sep 11 2017
  

       // there aren't many working models of anything complex and messy //   

       ... and when the actual complex, messy thing you're studying (like economics) doesn't even work properly, then you are, as the numerical analysts say, "buggered".   

       Has the idea got to the point where we can set fire to anything yet ? If so, we will go and get one of our precious matches from the secret place that the nurses don't know about ....
8th of 7, Sep 11 2017
  

       // there aren't many working models of anything complex and messy // I've got a little voodoo doll of the Intercalary.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 11 2017
  
      
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