The Benefits of Pollution??

Color me very skeptical:

Aerosols Appear To Weaken Hurricanes

Aerosols in the atmosphere produced from human activities do indeed directly affect a hurricane or tropical cyclone, but not in a way many scientists had previously believed – in fact, they tend to weaken such storms, according to a new study that includes a team of Texas A&M University researchers.
Renyi Zhang, University Distinguished Professor in Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M, and colleagues Yuan Wang, Keun-Hee Lee, Yun Lin and Misty Levy have had their work published in the current issue of Nature Climate Change.
a hurricane viewed from space
Aerosols in the atmosphere appear to weaken hurricane formation. Photo: Shutterstock
The team examined how anthropogenic aerosols – those produced from human activities, such as from factories, power plants, car and airplane emissions and other forms – play a role in the development of hurricanes.  The team used a complex computer model and data obtained from Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in 2005 and produced catastrophic damage.
The researchers found that aerosols tend to weaken the development of hurricanes (tropical storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean) or typhoons (those formed in the Pacific).  They also found that aerosols tend to cause a hurricane to fall apart earlier and wind speeds are lower than storms where anthropogenic aerosols are not present.

The full story is here.

Why am I skeptical? Many reasons. Here are three:
  1. This study is based on a grand total of one storm. Far too small of a sample to be meaningful.
  2. Virtually every forecaster agrees that meteorology has much less skill at forecasting changes in hurricane intensity than we believe we should at this point. 
  3. None -- literally none -- of the dozens of hurricane forecast models consistently forecasts changes in intensity well. That being the case, why should this computer be any different, especially since it was only tested on one storm.
Perhaps we will learn more about this with time but adding more pollution to weaken hurricanes seems like a bad idea to me. 


  1. "......aerosols tend to cause a hurricane to fall apart earlier and wind speeds are lower than storms where anthropogenic aerosols are not present".

    Clearly somebody's missing the boat here, Mike. Put up the array of 78,000 wind turbines out in the Gulf, and equip each of them with a giant tank of hairspray which is released very slowly into the atmosphere to be disbursed by the the turning blades when a tropical system has formed in the gulf. This man-made marvel could spare our coastline billions of dollars of damage by weakening tropical systems. The answer has been right there under our noses all this time! Thanks for sharing these two pieces of sage wisdom. I think I'll start investing in Vestas Blades and Alberto VO5 immediately.


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