Storm modulation is feasible through a strategic use of air conditioners
Daisuke Hiruma, Ryo Onishi, Keiko Takahashi, Koji Fukagata
Subjects: Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (physics.ao-ph); Fluid Dynamics (physics.flu-dyn)
Storm trainings, consisting of line-shaped aggregates of cumulonimbi, bring persistent local heavy rains, often causing devastating floods and landslides. Weather control techniques could in theory help prevent such disasters, but so far successful weather control has been limited to local rain initiation or the diffusion of local clouds. No successful strategies have been proposed for the control of mesoscale storms. Here we show that a strategic use of consumer air conditioners, which can typically remove about 1kg of moisture from the air per hour when run in dehumidification mode, and which are installed in large numbers in big cities, can modulate a storm downstream. We numerically reproduced a storm training that affected the Hiroshima metropolis in Japan in 2014, and conducted experiments to test the sensitivity of the storm to the initial moisture field near the surface. We propose an empirically-derived formula for a control efficiency parameter, which can be used to estimate the impact of moisture removal on the rainfall accumulation. It reveals that removal of half a kiloton of moisture, which could be achieved within half an hour in a city with a population of one million since more than one air conditioner is installed per capita in Japan, could lead to a significant reduction of the total rainfall accumulation over a 100 km2 area of heavy rain during the storm event. Conversely, our results indicate that some summertime storms occurring inside or near a metropolis could be strengthened by the excess moisture discharged from large numbers of air conditioners used for cooling rooms. We anticipate our results, which reveal that human activity can have a significant impact on storms, will be a starting point for considering the coupling of weather and the economy, and will contribute to the development of a sustainable society.