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Hurricane Stopper

Take away a Hurricane's power.
  (+2, -12)(+2, -12)
(+2, -12)
  [vote for,

Bear with me:

A Hurricane Fuels most of its power through warm waters.

I propose several ideas in order to cool the water in a hurricanes path before it hits land through several methods. These ideas aren't solid and I ask for the imagination and knowledge of the HB to help develop this idea. If it turns out good enough we could possibly submit the idea to the FEMA.

Idea #1) Hundreds, maybe even thousands of "Cold Generating Capsules" are placed all throughout the ocean especially where hurricanes typically travel. As a hurricane makes its way towards land we can strategically release these "Cold Capsules" the best we can to at least weaken if not destroy an oncoming Hurricane.

My ideas for the Cold Capsules are the following:

a) Giant Ice machines that can rapidly flood the waters with ice and cold water. (Essentially forming a wall of ice that the hurricane runs into, thus reducing the hurricanes strength) b) Some type of Environmentally friendly chemical reaction such as Dry Ice could be produced and released into the water c) Artificial Snow makers could shoot snow into the air.

Note: These Cold Capsules could take advantage of the hurricanes winds to help generate power through a windmill system, and possibly a hydro-powered system could be used as well) Eternal batteries could also be charged by solar power.

IDEA # 2) We could shoot the hurricane down using some type of environmentally friendly cold bomb. These bombs could just be bombs of ice, dry ice, or any other cold chemical reaction, which would result in an explosion of coldness.

CLOSING NOTE: I know Weather Control is a touchy subject and I was hesitant to even post this idea. However, I feel something must be done at the route of the problem to stop hurricanes ... don’t let the hurricane hit land with full power to begin with.

I’m no expert on hurricanes, but I would imagine that cooling the water would weaken a hurricane instead of strengthen them... I could be terribly wrong though.

This could be more effective if we attack the hurricane while it is just starting to develop.

If you vote negative please tell me why.

Kcsolutions123, Sep 13 2005

Calculating Specific Heat http://www.gmhsscie...m/problems/heat.htm
Or how much energy it takes to heat something by so much. [wagster, Sep 13 2005]

How hurricanes work http://science.hows...s.com/hurricane.htm
[wagster, Sep 13 2005]

Build enough of these and no more hurricanes ever http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/ert/otec/
[Madai, Sep 13 2005]

Oil on Ocean Surace http://www.newscien...rticle.ns?id=dn7726
Oil on the ocean surface may slow down hurricanes. [JephSullivan, Sep 13 2005]

How hurricanes work http://www.guardian...5860,773980,00.html
A flash demo - best explanation I have seen. [wagster, Sep 17 2005]

Vernon idea employing condensation to speed wind. W_2eA_2eS_2eC_2eW_2eV_2e
A neat idea; the reverse would be applicaple for hurricaines. [bungston, Sep 19 2005]

Atlantic Thermohaline http://www.clivar.o...s/iplan/iip/pd3.htm
Part of the fodder for global warming arguments, but very descriptive of a global cycle via the Greenland current. [reensure, Sep 20 2005]

How hurricanes work http://www.weatherwars.info/Katrina.htm
Best explanation EVER! [Shz, Sep 21 2005]

Dry Ice http://dryicedelive....com/4/cat4.htm?299
Dry Ice prices [Kcsolutions123, Sep 22 2005]

How warm surface water powers hurricanes http://www.nytimes....e/earth/27loop.html
By "surface," apparently, water has to be warm to depths of 300'-400' to be effective, and water flows equivalent to 100 Amazon Rivers are involved. You are spitting on a stove. [DrCurry, Sep 27 2005]

Other hurricane related ideas Hurricane_20Diverter
[bungston, Sep 27 2005]


       The problem is that you can't generate "cold" on the spot. The thermodynamics of whatever snow machine, giant ice maker etc you used would heat the surroundings rather than cool them (less than 100% efficiency, so for every unit of cold you put out, you will also release more than one unit of heat).   

       Consequently you would have to freeze the contents of the cool capsules in advance. To have a significant impact on the water around them, they would have to be huge (one ice cube doesn't have much effect on a Coke, you need a handful just to bring the temperature down a few degrees).   

       Also, given that a hurricane is hundreds of miles across, the amount of energy you would need to take out of the system is colossal.
david_scothern, Sep 13 2005

       Fishbone. Here's why:   

       First, it helps if you bear in mind that there is no such thing as 'cold', except as an absence of heat energy, much in the same way that dark is merely the absence of light.   

       //I would imagine that cooling the water would weaken a hurricane instead of strengthen them// Yes, it would do just that.   

       //Giant Ice machines// As [d_s] points out, you can't 'generate' cold, you have to extract the heat and take it somewhere. Ice makers, freezers, snow makers and the like merely extract heat and chuck it out the back (with some extra), a couple of feet away. So your machines won't work.   

       //environmentally friendly cold bomb// I'll skip the environmental problems, but theoretically this could work. If you bring sufficient dry ice (by extracting the heat from CO2 until it freezes, elsewhere, then flying it in) you could cool the ocean and stop it feeding energy to the storm.   

       Here's a quick calculation of how much dry ice you would need. A hurricane needs surface water temperature of around 27 celcius to a depth of about 60m. Let's assume the water temperature is 29 degrees and you want to drop it to 25, a drop of 4 degrees.   

       Hurricane Katrina covered an area of around 80000 square km, multiply that by the 60m depth and you will need to cool a volume of 4800 cubic km of water. That's 4,800,000,000,000 tonnes of water.   

       Fortunately the temperature of dry ice is around -80 degrees, so to cool a tonne of 29 degree water by four degrees you will only need...excuse me, I'll be back after lunch.   

       Right... you will need to extract 3,720,000 calories of energy per tonne (see link on specific heat to see how you work this out), a total of 1.78 x 10^19 calories or 7.44 x 10^19 Joules.   

       Evaporating CO2 will absorb 571J/g of heat, so you will need 130,000,000,000 tonnes of dry ice. That's 130bn tonnes at around $4000/tonne or $520trillion worth (about ten times world GDP). Even if we could make this amount (which I doubt), it would be cheaper to regularly evacuate and rebuild cities. Much cheaper.   

       We are a very clever bunch of monkeys, but are still nowhere near dealing with the forces of nature.
wagster, Sep 13 2005

       The best place to get cold from would be from below the thermocline. It'd still be extremely expensive, of course.   

       Probably the best solution would be to start building OTEC plantships. They can generate electricity and freshwater, by taking advantage of the tempeature differential between deep water and surface water. You'd need several such ships to mitigate hurricanes, and so far they haven't found a break-even design for an OTEC plantship to build.   

       Dry ice would not be the ideal substance to spread. It's cold, sure, but NOTHING holds heat better than water. Also, dry ice sinks in water.   

       Supercooled ice cubes(or maybe even normal ice cubes) would do a much better job, for much cheaper.   

       But, thats not considering the secondary effects of the cold air in the case of any gaseous solution. Liquid nitrogen, for example, wouldn't cool the ocean itself worth a damn, but would create enough of a cold wind to push a hurricane off course.   

       My bet's on OTEC, if anything.
Madai, Sep 13 2005

       I remember reading an article years ago (maybe in Popular Science?) about how applying some kind of insulating layer on the ocean's surface could slow down or prevent hurricanes. The layer would be some kind of giant oil spill. The reasoning was that if less heat could be transferred to the air from the water, the hurricane could not form. So they didn't propose to cool the ocean, only to prevent the ocean from heating the air.   

       I tried in vain to find a link to this topic on the internet, but I did find something similar. The "Oil on Ocean Surface" link says that putting oil on the ocean's surface may prevent ocean spray. According to the article, ocean spray allows for faster wind speeds.
JephSullivan, Sep 13 2005

       Just read that exact same thing in the New Scientist this week. Apparently it works well as an evaporation barrier on flat calm seas, but in the build-up to a hurricane the barrier gets broken, or rather whipped into an emulsion.
wagster, Sep 13 2005

       Wow, Nice feedback.   

       I heard that it only takes a small change to have a dramatic change on a hurricanes effect such as 1 or 2 degrees in ocean temperature. Anything would seem better than nothing to me.   

       As far as a price budget goes we lose billions of dollars cleaning up the destruction along with many other priceless lifes. We should be able to spend at least a couple billion dollars worth of Super cooled ice cubes or even normal ice cubes as [Madai] suggests.   

       Even though dry ice sinks I would still think it would have a good effect considering a lot of the heat does come from deep waters. Why not shoot a combination of different ice, dry and super cooled. Some of the cold bombs could even be designed to float after impact keeping the dry ice above water.   

       Its to bad there’s not a more heat efficient way of producing ice or snow.
Kcsolutions123, Sep 13 2005

       //I heard that it only takes a small change to have a dramatic change on a hurricanes effect such as 1 or 2 degrees in ocean temperature// If I read [wagster]'s anno, he was only proposing only four degrees, so I'm guessing that one or two degrees would "only" be half as expensive. Maybe we should try to persuade GWB to sign up to Kyoto - probably technically more difficult, but it may be cheaper.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Sep 13 2005

       <pedantry>0.4 DegK, surely?. This is a differential after all</pedantry>. I agree with the rest, though.
gnomethang, Sep 17 2005

       My Chemistry teacher, and later my ex boss drilled the fact into me. Must go check!
gnomethang, Sep 17 2005

       Who will clean up all the sea life that would expire because of the dramatic change in temperature? I expect to see a follow-up idea: "Dead Sea Creatures Washed Ashore De-Stinkifier"
joetcochran, Sep 19 2005

       //<pedantry>0.4 DegK, surely?. This is a differential after all</pedantry>// "degree" Kelvin? The unit is the Kelvin.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Sep 19 2005

       Except for the cursing, I really relish these sorts of discussion on the HB. Thanks for the math, [wagster]. I also very much like [Jeph]'s idea of the insulating layer. Supposely the ancients knew about calming rough water by applying oil. I have linked [Vernon]'s cryptically titled idea which deals with the reverse of this concept: wind amplification via forced condensation.   

       Oil in the form of an oil slick is less than ideal, but deployed at sea, and especially if more volatile refined oils are used, it might not be as destructive as an accidental oil spill.
bungston, Sep 19 2005

       //Who will clean up all the sea life that would expire because of the dramatic change in temperature?//   

       If they can handle the winter, they can probably handle our hurricane interventions. Keep in mind the water is in their upper range of tolerance to begin with.   

       overall, we are trying to cause a drop of only 4 degrees. Mammals that dive below the thermocline, like whales, go through a far greater temp shift.
Madai, Sep 19 2005

       //Move somewhere else// That reminds me, after seeing next weeks projected weather.   

       Anyone interested in buying a house in the Houston suburbs? Must close before next Saturday.
Zimmy, Sep 19 2005

       Maths [bung], maths...
wagster, Sep 19 2005

       It can be either, you fool!
daseva, Sep 19 2005

       /Maths [bung], maths.../   

       I was only thanking you for that first one there. The rest was a bunch of caca.   

       I actually like "maths" better, because it is easier to shout backwards when you want it to go away.
bungston, Sep 19 2005

       I paid a little attention in school [Murdoch], but I have forgotten most of it now. The good thing is that with the help of this new interwebrain I can remember much of it and awaken the dusty pathways of my head that used to contain millions of bustling thoughts. That's not to say that [bung] isn't right about it being a load of caca, but he hasn't checked it and neither have you. Or I.
wagster, Sep 20 2005

       I think any attempt to counter a hurricane with ice will use too little, not too much. I'm far more in favor of using Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion to weaken hurricanes.
Madai, Sep 20 2005

       I spent the better part of two hours yesterday perusing internet sites for a graph of water temperatures in the south Florida estuaries and Lake Okeechobee (shaky place) and finally, thank the great Shtam, discovered that the thousands of cubic yards of water discharged from reservoirs at the approach of tropical storms are running at about 30° C or 86° F. This compares to local ocean temperatures. Fresh water expands thermohaline currents, in particular the seasonal Yucatan upwelling, and contributes to both the local thermocline as evidenced by algae blooms and barocline as evidenced by local effects directly related to the discharge and to very slow rebound of local salinity. For a discussion of how faster local currents translate to longer term effects, see the link to Greenland current effects.
reensure, Sep 20 2005

       No takers on the house?
Zimmy, Sep 21 2005

       I'll send you a link if you want a good inspector, Zimmy.
reensure, Sep 21 2005

       I am actually in an area that is expecting a Cat 4 or 5 Hurricane on Saturday, thus I was joking about selling the house.
Zimmy, Sep 21 2005

       Good luck [Zimmy], let us know how it goes.
wagster, Sep 21 2005

       Living in a populated area? Tsk Tsk.   

       It matters not, I suppose. From what I've heard, a declared emergency forestalls all realty closings until lifted or properties reassessed.
reensure, Sep 21 2005

       Hurricane Rita now Cat.5 bigger and stonger than Katrina was ENTERING the Gulf ... Lets hope it doesn’t increase its strength and hit New Orleans or [Zimmys] house to hard.   

       I emailed this idea to FEMA for the hell of it and got a brief response back saying, "Thank you so much for your comment during this trying time for the citizens of the Gulf Coast. As the federal government, coordinated through FEMA, works 24 hours a day to save lives and sustain those in dire situations, we appreciate your support and your suggestions."   

       Even with the math Wagster has provided; I still believe this could possibly work by strategicly bombing floating and sinking bombs of dry ice or supercooled ice. Charity drives could have a "Buy an ice missile and shoot down the hurricane" Dry ice isn't THAT expensive (1000lb for $400 retail - See link)... Extreme but possible   

       If we could create a line (Or a front) of Ice, lets say 4 ice bombs a mile. Each bomb consisting of 500 pounds (250lb sinks, 250lb floats)   

       Assuming this doesn't intensify the hurricane, it should work.
Kcsolutions123, Sep 22 2005

       So would a series of airborne mirrors that focus intense sunlight into the coldest cloud tops, elicit precipation, and disrupt the outflow channels in hurricane eyewalls by redirection to more acute angles, all serving to cause an eyewall replacement cycle. A bit of CO2-ice carpet bombing of the eyewall would help, as would high-explosive relocation of concentric ocean ripples that funnel wind (you can see these if you search for images from synthetic aperture radar satellites.
reensure, Sep 22 2005

       Instead of e-mailing FEMA, you may want to try E-mailing "JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, AP Science Writer" and his named source, "hydrometeorologist Matthew Kelsch of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder".   

       They mention icebergs, but not plain old ice, or liquid nitrogen, or OTEC, or getting cold water from under the thermocline.   

       And the article made the front page of yahoo for a while, so if you get these guy's attention, you might be able to capture the attention of a far wider audience.
Madai, Sep 23 2005

       /The best place to get cold from would be from below the thermocline. It'd still be extremely expensive, of course./ - [Madai].   

       I was thinking more about this. The grnary ancient pumps used to protect the city of New Orlead generate astounding water flows. An engineer on NPR yesterday compared it to the flow of the Ohio River. That moves some water.   

       Given this, plus my fondness for explosives, I have two other ideas for making things cool.   

       1: Giant New Orleans-style pumps are moved into position aboard nuclear powered aircraft-carrier sized ships and function to create a cold "firebreak" by pumping water up from below the thermocline and jetting it high into the air.   

       2: Large dephth charges are deployed to make a similar firebeak. By detonating at dephth, these will push cold water up to mix with the warm on top, slowing the hurricane.   

       These methods could probably not stop the hurricane, but as described in an earlier idea of mine using nuclear bombs to similar ends, might divert the hurricane away from impoverished populations to make landfall in areas where people have cars to escape.
bungston, Sep 27 2005

       Ever heard of HAARP?   

ophello, Sep 27 2005

       /HAARP/ Now I have, but am not sure how it pertains to ginormous oceangoing pumpships.   

       Also, there is a spot for limks up there, [o], where they become clickable. Go ahead and move yours there, if you would.
bungston, Sep 27 2005

       bold and creative [+]; bad science [oh well]
sninctown, May 31 2006

       There is an off-the-wall possibility to consider here. We know that a hurricane covers vast amounts of surface area with clouds, but before those clouds roll in, the skies are often pretty clear.   

       Next, we know that the region into which a hurricane travels is, before it hits land, warm ocean with highly humid air above the water.   

       Next, at night, with clear skies, in a desert, it is known that the temperature can drop a great deal. This does not happen over our warm ocean because of all that humid air; water vapor is a pretty good greenhouse gas.   

       Well, suppose, before the main hurricane cloud bank rolls in, we arrange to reduce the humidity of the air above the warm ocean? Then at night, a lot of heat will escape straight to Space. A hurricane that approaches this region will not gain strength from it, and may even weaken and possibly change course.   

       So, how do we reduce the humidity of a large volume of air? Well, if it works at all, that WASCWV Idea, already linked to this one, could do it...and the winds that are generated by that process are in the middle of the ocean, fairly harmless. Perhaps those winds could even be "aimed" at the hurricane to MAKE it change course!
Vernon, May 31 2006

       I did some extensive calculations, and found the precise amount of cold water that must be released to effectively stop an average category 3 hurricane:   

       8.73 gazillion gallons.
epicproblem, May 31 2006

       How about deploying giant orbital sunshades to cause an artificial eclipse over the hurricane? From 90 miles above the earth, where orbiting is possible, the sun shade would only need to be slightly larger than the hurricane in question. Of course, to actually follow the hurricane from that distance, it would need some enormously powerful attitude jets, and something closer to a geosunchronous oribt would probably work better, and require a larger shield.   

       Umm, speaking of stopping hurricanes, I've heard that it's actually kind of good that we have hurricanes, because if we didn't "Something worse" would transfer the heat energy that they move around... Anybody seen that movie "The day after tomorrow?"
ye_river_xiv, Jul 02 2006

       Maybe we could create controlled mini-hurricanes that would consume the energy that the bigger hurricanes feed on, and therefore, they wouldn't get so big when they do come around.
quantum_flux, Nov 03 2007

       Wouldn't it just be simpler to kill the butterfly?
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 03 2007


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