http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/content/opinion/epaper/2004/10/07/a18a_versteeg_1007.html Thursday, October 07, 2004 Last month in this space, I explained why it's morally OK to wish that hurricanes would hit somebody else. Ordinary people can't create or control hurricanes — though watching Jeanne approach, I wished more than ever that there was some way to steer them. Now comes the October Scientific American with this cover story: "Controlling Hurricanes. Ways to Tame Nature's Most Destructive Storms." The article, by Ross N. Hoffman, says it is scientifically feasible to make hurricanes weaker or to change a storm's path to avoid populated areas. "If meteorological control does turn out to work at some point in the future," the author writes, "it would raise serious political problems. What if intervention causes a hurricane to damage another country's territory? And, although the use of weather modification as a weapon was banned by a United Nations Convention in the late 1970s, some countries might be tempted." The basic point is that greater control over nature entails greater moral responsibility. While scientific achievements have been used for great good, they've also been co-opted to inflict great harm. Wisdom doesn't always keep up with scientific know-how. Even more daunting is that wisdom and good intentions need to be universal. Many countries use nuclear power peacefully. There's good reason to worry about how North Korea and Iran intend to use it. But, frankly, after Frances and Jeanne here and Ivan and Charley in other parts of the state, I'm ready for the hurricane know-how to arrive as quickly as possible. Too bad Dr. Hoffman says meaningful control probably is decades away. He notes that in the 1960s, Project Stormfury tried without success to weaken hurricanes by seeding clouds near the eye wall. So how does Dr. Hoffman think scientists can control hurricanes? First, here's why he thinks scientists can control hurricanes. Hurricanes operate according to rules. But they appear random and chaotic because the rules are so complex. Very little changes have big consequences down the road. Complexity and sensitivity make hurricanes devilishly hard to predict — as those of us who watched in dread as Hurricane Jeanne's course shifted west can attest. The problem is that there's still no way to measure accurately the myriad things scientists would need to know to pinpoint a hurricane's path and intensity. What's the water temperature? How wet or dry is the air? What about those "ridges" that pop up — or down — to make the hurricane veer? Without a very accurate picture of the hurricane right now, you can't get a very accurate picture of where the hurricane will be in three or five days. The smallest goof in assumptions, and Jeanne hits Florida instead of swinging north offshore. But the extreme sensitivity also means that "slight, purposely applied inputs to a hurricane might generate powerful effects that could influence the storms, whether by steering them away from population centers or by reducing their wind speeds." The article proposes several ways scientists might alter a hurricane's "inputs." There's still some hope that cloud-seeding could drain the eye wall of moisture it needs to strengthen. Earth-orbiting solar power stations could be used to beam microwaves near or into storms, controlling the heat at various junctures and steering or weakening the hurricane. Ordering jets to fly along certain paths could leave contrail cloud cover that affects the storm. Or, and this is my favorite because it's something I almost can understand, scientists could spread a biodegradable oil slick in front of the storm. The oil would reduce evaporation, cutting off the fuel that makes storms intensify. In a computer simulation based on data from Hurricane Andrew, which blew away sections of Miami-Dade County in 1992, Dr. Hoffman found that if there had been some way to cool parts of the hurricane a few degrees, winds could have been reduced below 56 mph. In real life, Andrew was a Category 5 storm, with winds above 155 mph. The scientific ability to control hurricanes would impose new moral burdens. But if humans might control the storms to protect life and property, isn't there a moral obligation to learn how? And another link: http://www.foundrymusic.com/BRAINCANDY/displayheadline.cfm?the_date=&postfart=go&id=6383 Space age plan to tame might of hurricanes Microwave radiation and controlled oil slicks could change the path and sap the power of tropical storms Scientists are developing techniques aimed at taming the power of the world's most devastating storms. The project, backed by funds from Nasa, would involve seeding clouds, coating seas with biodegradable 'slicks' and even beaming microwave radiation from orbiting power stations to slow or even halt hurricanes. Controlling these great, rolling tempests - known as hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the western Pacific and cyclones in the eastern Pacific - is now considered an urgent priority. Last month Hurricane Ivan killed more than 70 people and destroyed thousands of homes, miles of roads, swaths of vegetation and scores of hotels as it swept over Grenada, Jamaica, Tobago, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and finally Cuba. Three similar recent storms caused the same kind of devastation, and meteorologists predict the next two decades will see increases in numbers and severity of hurricanes. Global warming is likely to worsen the problem. 'Nothing stands in the way of hurricanes,' says Ross Hoffman, in the current issue of Scientific American. 'But must these fearful forces be forever beyond our control?' The answer is 'no', he adds, for one day they could be controlled thanks to developments in computing, satellite technology and material sciences. Backed by Nasa funds, his team of scientists at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a research and development consulting firm, have created computer simulations of past hurricanes, including Hurricane Iniki which caused enormous damage to the Hawaiian island Kauai in 1992, and Hurricane Andrew, which devastated south Florida in the same year. To their surprise they found that by making only relatively small changes to temperatures and other meteorological variables they could induce major alterations in its path and behaviour. Slight tinkering sent Iniki on a route that missed Kauai, for example. 'The question is: how can such perturbations be achieved?' asks Hoffman. The team has proposed several answers. One is to coat the ocean in front of a hurricane with a biodegradable oil which would slow the evaporation of water from the sea surface, depriving the developing storm of its sustenance. Another technique is to seed the eyes of hurricanes with silver iodide crystals, speeding formation of ice from water vapour. Spread by aircraft, these seed clouds could cause hurricanes to dissipate, although the group acknowledges that early tests have been only partially successful. The ultimate technique would be the construction of a flotilla of orbiting power stations that would collect the Sun's rays and beam them to Earth as microwave radiation. These satellites are considered a promising, non-polluting energy source for the future, but could also be used to heat the sea and air around hurricanes, altering their paths and dissipating their energy. So what do you think? Could with scientists with power stations which generate the energy of 10 quatrillion watts be able to alter,weaken,or change the path of an hurricane and hav the total control over Earth's weather,as well as have total control over Earth's entire atmospheric system? Any opinions?