HomeEarthArtificial ocean cooling to weaken hurricanes is futile, study finds

Artificial ocean cooling to weaken hurricanes is futile, study finds

According to a recent study, the benefits would be insignificant even if we had infinite power to artificially cool the oceans to the point where they would become weaker hurricanes. The Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Science at the University of Miami (UM) conducted the study, demonstrating that using intervention technology to weaken a hurricane before it makes landfall is a very inefficient way to lessen the effects of disasters.

According to James Hlywiak, the study’s lead author and alumnus of the UM Rosenstiel School, “the main finding from our study is that massive amounts of artificially cooled water would be needed for only a modest weakening in hurricane intensity before landfall.” “Additionally, a slight decrease in intensity does not necessarily mean that there will be less chance of inland damage and safety risks. While any degree of weakening before landfall is a good thing, for these reasons it makes more sense to concentrate on adaptation strategies like bolstering infrastructure, enhancing the effectiveness of evacuation procedures, and developing the science surrounding impending storm detection and prediction.”

The authors combined air-sea interaction theories with a highly sophisticated computer model of the atmosphere to provide scientifically sound answers to inquiries about the efficacy of artificially cooling the ocean to weaken hurricanes.

They cooled regions of the ocean up to 260,000 km2 in size—larger than the state of Oregon and equivalent to 21,000 cubic kilometers of water—by up to 2 degrees Celsius in their computer simulations. Even with the largest cooling area, the simulated hurricanes only shrank by 15%. More than 100 times as much energy as was consumed in the entire United States in 2019 alone was taken out of the ocean to achieve this modest reduction.

You might think that the main conclusion of our article—that it is useless to attempt to weaken hurricanes—should be obvious, according to senior author David Nolan, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School. “Nevertheless, numerous suggestions for hurricane modification are frequently found in the media and are occasionally even granted patents. Having something that actually addresses this in the peer-reviewed literature makes us happy.”

Published in the journal Nature Communications Earth & Environment, the study was titled “Targeted Ocean Cooling to Weaken Tropical Cyclones Would Be Futile.”


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