Today's Efforts To Control Hurricanes
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Every year, researchers at the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA receives proposals on how to destroy a hurricane. Often they are outlandish plans such as using a nuclear bomb. The researchers respond to that idea by saying that adding the power and energy of an atomic bomb in addition to the energy in a hurricane would just make things worse.

There are also other ideas such as using windmills and dynamite, but the researchers still believe that it is impossible to weaken a hurricane because they are such vast storm systems. However, recently, the National Academy of Science strongly recommended that new efforts into storm modification of hurricanes resume.

Several government agencies such as NOAA, NASA, and the National Weather Service, have begun work on researching why hurricanes intensify. Other scientists are looking into the effects of coastal wind shear on landfalling hurricanes, and the most significant effort has been made by a South Florida company called Dyn-O-Mat, which has developed a gel like substance, which they believe can weaken a tropical storm or hurricane by taking the moisture out of them.




Research Into Hurricane Intensity

In the summer of 2001, researchers from several government agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Weather Service (NWS) started a project where they would combine satellite imagery, reconnaissance flights in and around tropical storms and hurricanes, and other tools to figure out how and why a tropical storm or hurricane intensifies, and in some cases, very rapidly.

One of the big problems forecasters face today is being able to accurately predict when and how much a tropical storm or hurricane will intensify. Examples of such a problem occurred in Hurricane Hugo (1989), Hurricane Andrew (1992), and Hurricane Opal (1995). First case studies for this project were in August, 2001 when Tropical Storms Barry and Chantal developed. Chantal was a particularly interesting case since it fluctuated in intensity quite a bit during its life.


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Effects of Coastal Wind Shear

A logical assumption in terms of attacking a hurricane would be to try and shear it apart. One of the key factors in a hurricane's development is the existence of light upper level winds. This is because the cloud structure of a hurricane is vertical. As a hurricane develops, the thunderstorm clouds around the center of circulation build up higher and higher, and are often termed "vertically stacked."

That is why you often see infrared satellite imagery of a hurricane to see the colors of the cloud tops. The colder they are, the more moisture, energy, and power the storm possesses. Hurricanes often travel east to west, which often collides with weather systems that control our weather because they are dominated by the westerlies.

These winds get into a hurricane, they will tear the storm's vertical cloud structure apart. However, to create such strong upper level winds artificially would require a lot of energy, especially if the storm is a major hurricane because the storm covers such a wide area. Many hurricane experts believe that the best way to attack a hurricane is at its core.


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Hurricane Fighting Gel

One of the ways to attack a hurricane at its core is through seeding. A South Florida company led by Peter Cordani have developed a powdery substance that is dropped into the eyewall of a tropical storm or hurricane, absorbs the storm's moisture, turn into a gel like substance, and falls back to the earth.

While some experts believe that this substance could cause environmental problems, Dyn-O-Mat believes that the material is harmless, but will use it far away from land so that it doesn't affect people or other living things. The folks at Dyn-O-Mat have already encountered some success with their product.

Last year, they had successful trials in July and September, 2001. They've asked the federal government for more federal funding. According to William Cordani, assistant to the CEO, "Dyn-O-Mat is working closely with a lobbyist, who is seeking funding in the range of $50,000,000 dollars from the federal government. Dyn-O-Mat has received assistance from astronauts, and a number of researchers.

However, experts and scientists in the field still contend that a storm such as a hurricane has too much energy, and covers too much area to be weakened. They feel that the only way to combat these storms is through "better building codes, wiser land use, and more accurate forecasts."


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