NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

The answer lies in Marine Cloud Brightening, exactly what it sounds like.

As Republicans weigh the chances of rain on their parade, and researchers in Miami test an $8 million wind simulator, scientists at the University of Leeds have figured out a way to weaken hurricanes.

The study, by John Latham, Ben Parkes, Alan Gadian and Steven Salter, was published today in Atmospheric Science Letters, and the idea seems surprisingly simple - though execution may be years away. Hurricanes acquire energy from the heat of the surface of the sea, so the researchers set out to lower the temperature of the sea surface. To do so, they propose using a technique called "cloud-seeding," the man-made creation of clouds on display at the Beijing Olympics that soaked rural areas of China to keep the opening ceremony dry.

Unmanned vehicles spray tiny droplets of sea-water over hurricane-prone sea zones, whose rise through the atmosphere increases the density of existing stratocumulus clouds. Denser clouds would reflect the sun's light and heat back into the stratosphere, keeping the ocean in the shade. Ocean temperatures could then drop by as much a few degrees, decreasing the potential energy sources for hurricanes, and sapping their strength. It's a localized application of a technique called Marine Cloud Brightening, which has been proposed as a tool to fight global warming.

H/T ScienceBlog.

Top image courtesy of Flickr user NASA Goddard Photo.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of shoppers in the central textile market of downtown Jakarta.
    Design

    How Cities Design Themselves

    Urban planner Alain Bertaud’s new book, Order Without Design, argues that cities are really shaped by market forces, not visionaries.

  2. Passengers line up for a bullet train at a platform in Tokyo Station.
    Transportation

    The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

    The nation’s famed mastery of rail travel has been aided by some subtle behavioral tricks.

  3. A photo of an encampment of homeless people outside Minneapolis,
    Equity

    Why Minneapolis Just Made Zoning History

    The ambitious Minneapolis 2040 plan will encourage more dense housing development in single-family neighborhoods.

  4. A screenshot of Cambridge University’s map of murders in medieval London.
    Maps

    Mapping the Gruesome Murders of Medieval London

    Using coroners’ records from the 1300s, Cambridge researchers reveal what violence looked like in a dangerous city with little law enforcement.

  5. The opulent anteroom to a ladies' restroom at the Ohio Theatre, a 1928 movie palace in Columbus, Ohio.
    Design

    The Glamorous, Sexist History of the Women’s Restroom Lounge

    Separate areas with sofas, vanities, and even writing tables used to put the “rest” in women’s restrooms. Why were these spaces built, and why did they vanish?