free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 269. TAMING HURRICANES WITH SATELLITES

Monday, March 27, 2006

269. TAMING HURRICANES WITH SATELLITES

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused $75 billion in damages, and Hurricane Rita $10 billion, for a total of $85 billion in the U.S. alone. These hurricanes also caused extensive damage to the oil production infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico, much of which was simply written off. Clearly any technology capable of moderating hurricanes, or directing them away from population centers and energy infrastructure, would be extremely valuable.

The ground work for achieving this has been done by Ross N. Hoffman, Chief Scientist at Atmospheric & Environmental Research Inc. (AER), a weather consulting firm headquartered in Lexington, Mass. In the October 2004 issue of Scientific American he described one approach:
Our team plans to conduct experiments in which we will calculate the precise pattern and strength of atmospheric heating needed to moderate hurricane intensity or alter its track. Undoubtedly, the energy required to do so would be huge, but an array of earth-orbiting solar power stations could eventually be used to supply sufficient energy. These power-generating satellites might use giant mirrors to focus sunlight on solar cells and then beam the collected energy down to microwave receivers on the ground. Current designs for space solar power stations would radiate microwaves at frequencies that pass through the atmosphere without heating it, so as to not waste energy. For weather control, however, tuning the microwave downlink to frequencies better absorbed by water vapor could heat different levels in the atmosphere as desired.
In a presentation on this topic, he also mentions the idea of using space mirrors:
Solar reflectors: In low earth orbit, these would produced bright spots on the night side and shadows on the day side of the earth
Now, it remains to be seen whether 2005 was an anomaly, or the start of a new pattern. But if we do enter a period where hurricanes like Katrina become a chronic pattern, there is really no excuse for not building microwave satellites or space mirrors to deal with them. A working system would pay for itself in a few years, even if it cost $100 billion. It could also generate electrical power as a side benefit.

It makes a lot of economic sense, and a company called Space Island Group (SIG) has a detailed plan for doing it. You can read about the company and their plan here.
-- by JD

4 Comments:

At Monday, March 27, 2006 at 11:57:00 AM PST, Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

Wouldn't it cheaper and more ecologicaly sound to build stonger houses on higher ground? and to devote some effort to the restoration of natural buffrers like mangrove swamps.

 
At Monday, March 27, 2006 at 12:02:00 PM PST, Blogger Jay Denari said...

Using satellites for electricity is a good idea, but THIS proposal is insane.

Electricity generation can happen with the satellites beaming to a given point, but generating enough heat to reroute hurricanes would require heating vast areas of the atmosphere. That could create a huge ripple effect that could alter global weather patterns and, ironically, even strengthen the hurricanes. Even if it succeeds in diverting the storms, where will they go? They still have to land somewhere, so this just diverts the destruction to places that are less capable of dealing with it.

Also, the article notes:
tuning the microwave downlink to frequencies better absorbed by water vapor could heat different levels in the atmosphere as desired.

Did they forget that almost all life is water-based? What would the extra energy do to people and other life in the affected region?

 
At Monday, March 27, 2006 at 12:47:00 PM PST, Blogger Roland said...

I'd also be really cautious about stuffing around with the weather so directly - you never know what the unintended consequences will be, at least not with today's climate modelling techniques. Perhaps a better idea would be something like this.

 
At Tuesday, March 28, 2006 at 5:57:00 AM PST, Blogger bc said...

This technique relies on the sensitivity of chaotic systems. If a "tipping point" can be identified in the forming hurricane, only a small input of energy may be required to change its course. This depends on highly advanced computer simulations of the hurricane, which may never be possible preciesly because they are chaotic.

I see the threat of lawsuits as the killer. Whoever does get hit will immediately sue whoever tried to modify the hurricane, whether successful or not.

Plus the possibility of using weather modification as a weapon will be a major obstacle to its acceptance. Space based weapons are banned by international treaty, but of course, the US ignores those..

 

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