Skip to comments.Oil on troubled waters may stop hurricanes
Posted on 07/25/2005 4:36:38 PM PDT by LibWhacker
Sailors who traditionally dumped barrels of oil into the sea to calm stormy waters may have been on to something, a new study suggests. The old practice reduces wind speeds in tropical hurricanes by damping ocean spray, according to a new mathematical sandwich model.
As hurricane winds kick up ocean waves, large water droplets become suspended in the air. This cloud of spray can be treated mathematically as a third fluid sandwiched between the air and sea. Our calculations show that drops in the spray decrease turbulence and reduce friction, allowing for far greater wind speeds sometimes eight times as much, explains researcher Alexandre Chorin at the University of California at Berkeley, US.
He believes the findings shed light on an age-old sea ritual. Ancient mariners poured oil on troubled waters hence the expression but it was never very clear what this accomplished, says Chorin. Since oil inhibits the formation of drops, Chorin thinks the strategy would have increased the drag in the air and successfully decreased the intensity of the squalls.
The researchers suggest that, during a tropical storm, aeroplanes could deliver harmless surfactants to the ocean surface reducing surface tension in water and stopping droplets from forming perhaps preventing a hurricane developing.
But some climate physicists remain unconvinced. I am very doubtful about this approach, says Julian Hunt at University College London, UK. He has studied turbulence both theoretically and in the laboratory and thinks that the high wind speeds are caused by an entirely different mechanism.
In a paper submitted this month to the Journal of Fluid Dynamics, Hunt suggests that variations in the turbulence between different regions of the hurricane cause sharp jumps in wind speed.
Chorin stresses that his team has not carried out experimental tests on the application of this work with tropical storms, but feels that it could be explored in the future.
wont work The vadez tried it
Reduces wind speed, not the blood alcohol content of the captain! :-)
It'll never see the light of day.... Too many greenies have forced oil companies/tankers to spend literally BILLIONS to protect the enviroment from that nasty oil.
(Same nasty oil that bubbles up naturally from the ocean bed, btw.)
Interesting approach to stopping storms. I remember last year some guy was going to fly over a cane and drop a bunch of miniscule sponges (something like that, memory not so great). It would be nice to find a way to tame the hurricanes but I'm not holding my breath.
Benjamin Franklin noted this back in the 18th century. He devised a parlor trick where he dipped his cane (that contained an amount of oil in it) into turbulent water and calmed it.
Imagine the first day someone deliberately spills a 55 gallon drum overboard in sight of Greenpeace. The hysteria that then extends to the MSM.
Do not toy with the awesome power of surface tension.
Are you nuts? The only calm seas after vadez (I presume you meant Exxon Valdez) were the ones covered by oil.
thanks you found the L
Are you saying they ~shouldn't~?
Yes, lets trade nice beaches for oil slicks on some kind of foolish scheme to tame hurricanes. This sounds like a preposterous idea.
Oil was meant to keep waves from breaking around the vessel, at a time when a breaking wave could swamp a boat and sink it. It also reduced the amount of "wavelets", or waves generated within a larger swell that could knock a small boat around.
So Berkeley, which has nothing to worry about from hurricanes has suddenly decided that they have the solution.
This is a bad idea and it won't work, for starters, before a hurricane arrives in any given area, the sea will be churned up in advance of it's arrival, and that would help to dissipate the oil slick somewhat.
Not to mention, there is not enough oil on the planet to make this work for one storm, much less storms on a regular basis.
They need to take this zany scheme and file it in the same folder that the idea of exploding nuclear bombs in hurricanes has managed to find itself.
Greenpeace be damned! If it was good enough for Franklin, it's good enough for us. I think we should try it; i.e., create a huge oil slick, of Exxon Valdez proportions, in the path of the next hurricane, and see what happens.
They aren't talking about dumping oil into the ocean, it's too damn expensive! ;-)
If they use VEGETABLE OIL the Greenies won't be able to complain now, will they?!? Hmmmmm?
True enough... I think it's preposterous anyhow... just because of the scale involved.
I'm not saying whether or not it might work. I'm saying I think I'd rather have oil on my beach (if it proved workable) than no beach at all.
I have friends in Florida who have no beach today, thanks to Dennis. And if the state can't restore the land under their homes, they'll lose everything...
And 20 years from now, when the dolphins start dying, and after spending billions in research to discover why, they'll determine the dolphins are allergic to the buildup of surfactants in their bodies.
Kinda like MTBE and skin cancer.