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Subject: C5b) Why don't we try to destroy tropical cyclones by placing a substance on the ocean surface ?

Contributed by Chris Landsea (NHC)

There has been some experimental work in trying to develop a liquid that when placed over the ocean surface would prevent evaporation from occurring. If this worked in the tropical cyclone environment, it would probably have a limiting effect on the intensity of the storm as it needs huge amounts of oceanic evaporation to continue to maintain its intensity (Simpson and Simpson 1966). However, finding a substance that would be able to stay together in the rough seas of a tropical cyclone proved to be the downfall of this idea.

There was also suggested about 20 years ago (Gray et al. 1976) that the use of carbon black (or soot) might be a good way to modify tropical cyclones. The idea was that one could burn a large quantity of a heavy petroleum to produce vast numbers of carbon black particles that would be released on the edges of the tropical cyclone in the boundary layer. These carbon black aerosols would produce a tremendous heat source simply by absorbing the solar radiation and transferring the heat directly to the atmosphere. This would provide for the initiation of thunderstorm activity outside of the tropical cyclone core and, similarly to STORMFURY, weaken the eyewall convection. This suggestion has never been carried out in real-life.

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