December 07, 2008
Supersonic Jets Sonic Booms Could Stop Hurricanes?

A couple of scientists originally from Russia propose using sonic booms to suppress hurricanes.

A Russian professor at an Ohio university has applied to patent a method for snuffing out hurricanes by flying jet fighters around the eye of the storm at supersonic speeds.

Professor Arkadii Leonov and his collaborator Atanas Gagov, both of Akron Uni, actually filed their patent application "Hurricane Suppression by Supersonic Boom" last year. It was unearthed by the New Scientist patents column this week.

The article points out that The US Air Force's new F-22 Raptors can sustain supersonic speed without afterburners. They would need to make several big circles around the hurricane. So they might need either refueling or multiple Raptors to do the job. Will the USAF include this potential capability as a justification to avoid budget cuts?

The patent states that supersonic airplanes would disrupt a hurricane by flying in and out of it in elliptical patterns.

Jet fighters flying at supersonic speeds along special trajectories with a hurricane/typhoon at various altitudes would create supersonic booms. In one such embodiment, the trajectories for the supersonic booms of the present invention are counter to the rotational component of the hurricane and/or typhoon being targeted. As such, supersonic booms can be tailored and/or designed to partially and/or fully -negate the basic rotational contribution in a hurricane by slowing down a hurricane's/typhoon's rotation. Additionally, when supersonic booms propagate downward to the surface of the ocean they also destabilize a hurricane's/typhoon's structure by increasing the pressure in the central part of a hurricane's/typhoon's eye.

The patent cites other proposed methods of hurricane suppression including cloud seeding and pumping water from deep to the surface to lower surface temperatures.

To date a number of methods/theories relating to hurricane/typhoon control, dissipation and/or suppression have been offered. Most have focused on ways to achieve air cooling, considered by their proponents as a main source and/or reason for the continuance of hurricane/typhoon strength. One early attempt slightly reduced a hurricane's intensity by dispersing at high altitude silver iodine particles. This caused an increase in condensation in the seeded portion of the cloud mass of a hurricane and a heat-reducing (or cooling) rainfall. Another mitigation proposal focused on cooling a large area of ocean by pumping cold sea water from well below the surface of the ocean. Also forwarded as a possible hurricane/typhoon control, dissipation and/or suppression methods is the use of various powdered chemicals to achieve a cooling (or exothermic) effect within a hurricane/typhoon. Unfortunately, the most effective endothermic chemicals are detrimental to the environment and expensive. Environmentally friendly chemicals such as potassium chloride (KCI) are cheap and easy to use, but not very effective as the amount needed to actually impact a hurricane/typhoon is on the order of about 40 tons per second of KCI in an area having a radius of about 20 km to about 30 km around a hurricane's/typhoon's eye wall. This amount of powdered KCI is generally necessary in order to achieve 0.80C cooling under ideal conditions. Accordingly, it is believed that such methods are unrealistic for one reason or another.

The water pump approach sounds capital intensive. One big advantage of the supersonic aircraft approach is that the aircraft are going to exist anyway and would be available for use against the occasional category 4 or category 5 hurricane.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 December 07 06:10 PM  Climate Engineering

Brett Bellmore said at December 8, 2008 4:43 AM:

Just off hand, and without doing any calculations, this strikes my engineer's mind as sheer lunacy, given the relative power driving a hurricane's rotation, vs the available HP that could be generated by aircraft, let along transferred to the wind by sonic booms.

Hurricanes function because there's a great deal of energy inherent in the warm water under dry cool air. We'd be better off finding a way to dissipate that energy without hurricanes, or better yet, tap it.

Jerry Martinson said at December 8, 2008 5:04 AM:

The real source of the energy is in the water, not the air so I don't see how this could possibly work without requiring hundreds of thousands of aircraft.

I think a more productive line of research would be in trying to make some sort of system that can vertically churn from the sea floor (or at least in cooler water) that would set up a circulation pattern that:
1. spreads out over a large area on the surface so the cooling cell size per device ratio is very large
2. Is somewhat self-sustaining or can be sustained with little energy

Perhaps a system using bubbles or a large thermosyphon would do the trick.

Bob Badour said at December 8, 2008 10:21 AM:

Let's not fuck with the ocean currents by trying to accelerate equatorial upwelling of cold water. A few nasty storms every year are nothing compared to glaciers covering the earth.

averros said at December 8, 2008 1:16 PM:

Yep, there's a proud tradition of Soviet lunatic inventors patenting things which are so offlandish that it's not clear how the patent examiners managed to survive bouts of laughter (I think the fact that they had a plan to meet for the number of applications processed is somehow relevant).

The patent situation is not much different in US, actually; though thanks to the additional layer of laweyers the inanity of the substance of the inventions is well masqueraded behind impenetrable lawyerspeak. Soviet patents are more entertaining.

persiflage said at December 8, 2008 4:22 PM:

A deep-ocean cold-water syphon actually takes very little energy to operate. The syphon (a plastic pipe, say, with its open upper end supported by flotation just above sea level) extends from the surface of the sea into deep, cold water. The only energy needed to "run" this cold-water pump is that amount sufficient to remove some water out of the very top of the pipe - which then refills to sea level from the bottom, where the other open end is. An air lift system requiring only a few pounds of air pressure would be sufficient to make it work. Now, strategically deploying and/or moving such set-ups, that would be another matter...

James Bowery said at December 9, 2008 7:18 AM:

Hurricanes are mechanically simple. There are only 2 basic physical forces driving a hurricane:

Updraft and angular momentum.

The angular momentum is from the ambient motion of the atmosphere. What the updraft does is draw that ambient angular momentum toward the center, causing higher velocity spin.

Understanding this simple mechanism, it is clear why sonic booms are a rather silly way to attack hurricanes.

Doug said at December 10, 2008 8:01 AM:

Still, Randall, it's great having you scanning the horizon for this stuff on our behalf. Your own capacity for judging what seems plausible or implausible leads you to post items, of which 95% or more seem quite credible or at least plausible.

James Bowery said at December 10, 2008 2:57 PM:

Doug, seconded.

Randall Parker said at December 10, 2008 6:57 PM:

Thanks Doug and James.

I am aware that not every claim I post about will hold up. I even made this post's title into a question mark. I would welcome a scientific refutation. But, alas, the disagreements above came in the form of just guesses. I think if one is going to disagree with a couple of Ph.D. physicists one ought to try a little harder than that.

By contrast, I recently did a post about Mars atmosphere engineering and a guy named Adam showed up in comments with detailed numbers addressing the issues I raised. I love that sort of commenter.

Paul Walrecht said at December 17, 2008 11:22 AM:

To stop hurricanes you must know how ahurricane begins
In the LDAT (Living Particles Atomic Theory), which gives an answer on the question "What is electricity?"
we have tree tides of living particles atoms, young, negatively electrically charged, young-adult, alternatingly electrically charged and adult tides of living particles, positively electrically charged.
With the introduction of the young-adult tide, alternatingly electrically charged living particles, we can forget the principle
of magnetism and the principles of mass and charge have the same denominator. Because of a mass is simply a number of different electrically charged living particles.
The alternatingly electrically living particles has three properties, phase, frequency and intensity.
Whe two alternatingly electrically living particles have the same frequency and the same intensities and a phase shift of 90 degrees,
they begin to rotate around eacht other. This is the beginning of a hurricane.
On the surface of the oceans, the Pacific and the Atlantic, on the Equator more alternatingly living water particles with the same frequency and the same intensities intend to fly into the air, where all of the water particles are alternatingly electrically charged.
That level crossing can only with the same frequencies and the same intensities. That rotation is directed to the sunshine.
When rotation takes place, pumping begins. Watermolecules jump into the air with the same phase shift of 90 degrees.
The hurricane cloud begins to growth. Into that stage the hurricane is not visable. It dures some tide (non linear duration)
before the beginning hurricane is visable. Maybe with infrared detection you can find beginning hurricanes. With an obstacles between the sunshine and the beginning hurricane, which forms an eye and a concentric mirror of rotating and pumping water molecules.
With one aeroplane you can form a shadow which cover the eye and the concentric mirror into the hurricane, so that pumping stops and therefore growing of the hurricane. Also above land and in the night pumping stops.
Your sincerely Paul Walrecht, Enschede, The Netherlands.

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