MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Overpressure effects on hurricane after thermonuclear detonation.

Date: Mon Dec 10 22:47:29 2001
Posted By: Denni Windrim, Director of Education, Sylvan Learning Centre
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1007419167.Es

An interesting question. But dropping a 10 megaton nuclear device into the eye of a hurricane would just annoy the hurricane. As this site

indicates, "(i)t is very difficult to scale down the immense size, energy and power released from a hurricane - some say equivalent to 400 20-megaton hydrogen bombs." Since your question is (I hope) purely hypothetical, I think I can feel free to be equally hypothetical. Hurricanes, like most meteorological phenomena, are driven from the ground up. A 10 megaton bomb would do little to disrupt a hurricane. I would think it more likely that, assuming detonation at or near sea level, it would aggravate the situation by adding yet more heat and yet more rising moisture, and simply fuel the hurricane. Sort of like trying to put out a forest fire by dumping gasoline on it. Assuming the numbers above to yield a total hurricane force of 4 gigatons, I expect that using nuclear weapons to disrupt or dissipate a hurricane would be equivalent to curing a hangnail by cutting your arm off. Stretching a 100 km square tarpaulin over the ocean surface directly in front of the advancing hurricane would be much more likely to be effective. And if it failed, the worst that would happen would be that people would be picking bits of blue plastic out of their trees instead of cleaning up plutonium.


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