Will Donald Trump stop the hurricane

Hurricane control Why atomic bombs do nothing against hurricanes

Stop a hurricane with an atomic bomb explosion? The idea is nonsense, of course. Serious scientists prefer not to answer the question of whether this would even be possible. Aside from the widespread radioactive contamination, what would an atomic bomb dropped in the eye of a hurricane actually do?

"We can do that very briefly. That wouldn't do anything at all," says graduate meteorologist Adrian Leyser from the German Weather Service. Even if you can hardly imagine, atomic bombs are simply too weak for hurricanes despite their gigantic destructive power.

The hurricanes are much more powerful than an atomic bomb. An average hurricane converts thermal energy at a rate of five to 20 times ten to the power of 13 watts. This is a number with 13 zeros and roughly corresponds to a powerful atomic bomb that explodes every 20 minutes.

Adrian Leyser, German Weather Service

So a single atomic bomb would do nothing. In the three days that Hurricane Dorian raged, one would have had to detonate around 200 atomic bombs over the Bahamas in order to counter the purely energy. So this is not only an adventurous, but above all a completely unrealistic thought. In order to save the honor of the Americans, it must be said that they too have never seriously considered the matter since the 1950s - when the idea arose.

Another approach would be to combat early-stage hurricanes when they are still tropical lows, without the extreme forces of a hurricane. But meteorologist Adrian Leyser says: "The problem is that there are about 80 of them per year, especially over the Atlantic, and only five become hurricanes." So you have to shoot at all 80 tropical lows to make sure that there are no hurricanes.

So in my opinion there is no starting point where you can say that we can stop hurricanes in any way.

Adrian Leyser, German Weather Service

Using hurricanes to generate energy

At the moment, hurricane research is heading in a different direction. It's about the unimaginable amounts of energy in a hurricane. With wind turbines that are stable enough for a hurricane, these huge amounts of energy could be used to generate electricity. There are first test facilities - for example off the coast of Japan, explains Leyser: "They are just much larger than the wind turbines as we know them, can withstand wind speeds of over 150, over 200 kilometers per hour and convert this wind energy into electricity . "

An interesting side effect: all the energy that is gained from a hurricane is lost by the hurricane. So he's getting weaker. With a few wind turbines this is of course not noticeable, but an effect is possible on a large scale. There is an interesting study that presents a gigantic wind turbine park off the American coast as a thought experiment:

80,000 of these resilient wind turbines were installed off the Gulf Coast of America and then Hurricane Katrina was simulated in 2005. It was actually found out that the strength is noticeably weakening and that, conversely, 500 gigawatts of electricity have been generated.

Adrian Leyser, German Weather Service

That corresponds to the output of 500 nuclear power plants. Of course, it is not to be expected that the USA will install 80,000 wind turbines off its coasts in the next few years and the previous systems are not technically mature either. They are extremely expensive and not efficient enough - the electricity they generate is disproportionate to the effort required to build and operate them.

For the mainland, researchers from Miami are developing a type of wind screw that will slow down the storm on building roofs and generate electricity at the same time. But this technology is only just beginning.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Dorian is on its way across the Atlantic towards Europe. But we don't really have to worry in Germany, says meteorologist Adrian Leyser: "We don't face an immediate threat." It is the case that a larger part of these hurricanes then mostly move to northern and western Europe and lose a lot of their intensity in the process. In individual cases, however, there could be hurricane depths. The meteorologist explains that they would have a high potential for damage, but not in the form that hurricanes have.

An uncontrollable force of nature

The regions around the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and the US Gulf Coast in particular remain at risk of hurricanes. Because hurricanes need the warm surface water of the sea to develop. It has not yet been proven that global warming could increase the number of severe hurricanes - but meteorologist Leyser sees a lot of logic in the idea.

The warmer the surface water of the oceans, the more energy there is naturally in it and the more energy they can convert, and this leads directly to the fact that these hurricanes can become stronger.

Adrian Leyser, German Weather Service

But there is currently no measurable trend. But the climate models already indicate that things could go in this direction, says Leyser. On the other hand, he cannot imagine that humanity will dominate hurricanes at some point: For him, they belong to the forces of nature that are stronger than all human forces. However, we would learn to deal with them better and better: "What I could imagine is that the weather models will be improved even further," says Leyser. "In such a way that you can say relatively precisely many days in advance where, for example, such a hurricane will land so that it can be evacuated in good time."

But basically we will always face these forces of nature powerless.

Adrian Leyser, German Weather Service