J4.1 Guidelines for Hurricane and Climate Modification

Thursday, 27 January 2011: 11:00 AM
605/610 (Washington State Convention Center)
Roland List, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Hurricane and Climate Modification, HuCliM, are compared to the first modern Weather Modification, WM, operations/experiments in the nineteen sixties. In WM it was soon obvious that some order had to be established after the discovery of the seeding agents AgI and dry ice (solid CO2) by GE (Langmuir, Schaefer and Vonnegut) by issuing guidelines for the planning and conduct of activities, as well as the acceptability of results. The first criteria setup by the World Meteorological Organization, WMO, were accepted ~40 years ago. They are still in place today, and are applied by most countries of the world. It is obvious that similar rules have to be established to avoid the problems inherent in HuCliM, and to make it possible to proceed in a smooth, effective and appropriate manner. The big difference between WM and HuCliM is scale. WM activities are normally within the jurisdiction of individual countries. The main concern by neighboring countries could be the “Peter robbing Paul” aspect. This is different for hurricanes which involve whole regions, while climate change is affecting the whole world. These larger scales make it necessary that either a whole region or the whole world have to agree with proposals. In other words, a “Law of the Sea” needs to be formulated for the atmosphere. Since this would take about 200 years to develop, I think that the issuing of Guidelines by the UN is a possibility. In other words, legal and political considerations have to enter the equation. As scientists we have to be aware of these boundaries and not propose unrealistic and unethical solutions in the news media. Science has to be set and applied in the context of the overall issues. There is not only a different size to HuCliM, there is also a different timescale, which is larger than “a seeded day”. Further, it is obvious that randomized experiments are out because we rather deal with single situations. The risk factor also enters the equation with substantial financial implications – not to speak of possible human sacrifice. These factors are not in the realm of scientific competence of individuals or companies. WM required understanding of the physics of individual seeding cases. This has been treated in a very “cavalier” manner, but would have to become a basic principle and, thus, require very substantial improvements of any hurricane or climate model. Hurricane and climate models have little, if any, skill in assessing precipitation. Yet it is precipitation which climate modification would affect. “We looked at it, it is very small” demonstrates the irresponsibility of some of the involved scientists who are not aware of the vulnerability of many of the world's regions. Hand-waving is not good enough! The desired content of the Guidelines and the mechanism of their development and application will also be discussed. Only in such a way can Hurricane and Climate Modification be addressed and made possible. There is a certain urgency to deal with this situation considering that billions of dollars are involved to modify systems as large as hurricanes and the world's climate.
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