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飓风可控吗?

时间:2011-08-29 08:48:03  来源:  作者:

人人都喜欢谈论天气,可能有朝一日某人可以对天气做些事情。经历了过去的跳舞和祈祷,我们抵达了24世纪的天气修改技术(至少,这是我从《星舰迷航:下一代》中的一个片段中回想起的)。
Controlling cyclones is an effort entirely different from, say, making it rain. A storm as massive as Hurricane Irene would seem to defy any attempts by mere mortals to deflect it. Yet the idea isn’t as farfetched as it might seem, thanks to chaos theory.
控制旋风是一种与使它下雨完全不同的尝试。强如飓风艾伦这样暴风雨,将会蔑视任何通过人力使其改向的尝试。但是,幸亏混沌理论,这种想法并非像它看来那样牵强。
Ross N. Hoffman, a principal scientist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Lexington, Mass., described in the October 2004 issue (sorry, pay wall) of Scientific American how models showed it was indeed possible to re-route storms. Being chaotic systems, hurricanes are highly sensitive to initial conditions, so adjusting humidity or temperature could be enough, as the storms grows, to send them away from sensitive areas.
马萨诸塞州莱克星敦市大气与环境研究首席科学家,罗斯• 霍夫曼,在2004年10月版的《科学美国人》中,描述了模型实验表明使暴风雨改道确实可行。作为混乱系统,飓风对于初始条件高度敏感,所以在飓风形成阶段,仅仅调整湿度或温度就可以让它们远离敏感区域。

Here’s how Hoffman described what he found in a simulation of the Hurricane Iniki, a 1992 storm that was the most powerful ever to hit the Hawaiian islands:
以下便是霍夫曼描述的在飓风伊尼基仿真实验中的发现。飓风伊尼基产生于1992年,是迄今为止登陆过夏威夷群岛的最强台风。
The most significant modifications proved to be in the starting temperatures and winds. Typical temperature adjustments across the grid were mere tenths of a degree, but the most notable change—an increase of nearly two degrees Celsius—occurred in the lowest model layer west of the storm center. The calculations yielded wind-speed alterations of two or three miles per hour. In a few locations, though, the velocities changed by as much as 20 mph because of minor redirections of the winds near the storm’s center.
在开始阶段,最大的改变是温度和风。试验方格内的典型温度调整为仅为几十分之一度,但是最明显的变化—接近2摄氏度的增加—发生在台风中心西部的模型最底层。计算得到的风速变化为每小时2~3英里。不过,在一些位置,由于接近风暴中心的风轻微变向,风速变化多达每小时20公里。
Although the original and altered versions of Hurricane Iniki looked nearly identical in structure, the changes in the key variables were large enough that the latter veered off to the west for the first six hours of the simulation and then traveled due north, so that Kauai escaped the storm’s most damaging winds. The relatively small, artificial alterations to the storm’s initial conditions had propagated through the complex set of nonlinear equations that simulated the storm to result in the desired relocation after six hours. This run gave us confidence that we were on the right path to determining the changes needed to modify real hurricanes.
虽然飓风伊尼基的原版和修改版看似具有几乎相同的结构,但是关键变量的变化足以使后者在仿真实验开始的6个小时转头向西,然后按预定向北,以致考艾岛免遭暴风雨破坏力最强的风的袭击。对于风暴初始条件较小的人为改变,已经传遍模拟风暴的复杂非线性方程组,并在6小时候导致了期待的变向。这次试验给了我们信心,让我们相信通过做出需要的变化可以改变真正的飓风。
Of course, just how to change those initial conditions is another matter. Proposals abound, including one that made headlines in 2009 because the patent holders included Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The key is to change the ocean’s local surface temperature, say, by pumping up deep, cold water or using giant plastic tubes to help mix the ocean layers. Other ideas appear in the graphic below, from Hoffman’s article.
当然,如何改变初始条件是另外一件事。方案很多,包括一个登上2009年头条的方案,因为该方案的专利持有人包括微软的缔造者比尔•盖茨。关键因素是改变大洋局部的表面温度,通过将底层的冷空气抽到上层或者使用巨大的塑料板,以混合大洋不同深度各层。以下图表出自霍夫曼的文章,其中还阐述了其他方法。
Thinking that humans can manipulate nature in this way seems hubristic. But considering the danger from hurricanes and the enormous costs they exact, it may be worth a try.
认为人类能够通过这种方式控制大自然,似乎有些傲慢自大。但是,想想飓风的危害和它们造成的巨大损失,这可能值得一试。

Theoretical techniques include seeding to cause rain, controlling evaporation with a biodegradeable oil slick and heating from orbit. Credit: David Fierstein
理论技术包括播撒雨种降雨、利用生物可降解浮油控制水汽蒸发和轨道加热。
 

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