Storm oil is very effective and is still, as far as I know carried by merchant ships. The dispenser is still sold by the ship chandlers. This snippet published in a 2005 article might be interesting,
“Sailors who traditionally dumped barrels of oil into the sea to calm stormy waters may have been on to something, a new study suggests. The old practice reduces wind speeds in tropical hurricanes by damping ocean spray, according to a new mathematical “sandwich model”.
As hurricane winds kick up ocean waves, large water droplets become suspended in the air. This cloud of spray can be treated mathematically as a third fluid sandwiched between the air and sea. “Our calculations show that drops in the spray decrease turbulence and reduce friction, allowing for far greater wind speeds – sometimes eight times as much,” explains researcher Alexandre Chorin at the University of California at Berkeley, US.
He believes the findings shed light on an age-old sea ritual. “Ancient mariners poured oil on troubled waters – hence the expression – but it was never very clear what this accomplished,” says Chorin. Since oil inhibits the formation of drops, Chorin thinks the strategy would have increased the drag in the air and successfully decreased the intensity of the squalls.
The researchers suggest that, during a tropical storm, aeroplanes could deliver harmless surfactants to the ocean surface – reducing surface tension in water and stopping droplets from forming – perhaps preventing a hurricane developing.
But some climate physicists remain unconvinced. “I am very doubtful about this approach,” says Julian Hunt at University College London, UK. He has studied turbulence both theoretically and in the laboratory and thinks that the high wind speeds are caused by an entirely different mechanism.
In a paper submitted this month to the Journal of Fluid Dynamics, Hunt suggests that variations in the turbulence between different regions of the hurricane cause sharp jumps in wind speed.
Chorin stresses that his team has not carried out experimental tests on the application of this work with tropical storms, but feels that it could be explored in the future.
Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0505209102)”
Last edited by Tartan34C; 01-21-2007 at 10:41 AM.