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Old 05-23-2020, 08:54 AM   #1
Daigoro
 
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Default [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

Tower for Control and Abatement of Typhoons, Cyclones or Hurricanes: T-CATCH

This is a follow on from this thread.

In a realistic to semi-rubbery cyberpunk setting, mainly TL9 but looking at advances in megastructure engineering, what would a typhoon abatement platform look like? (I'll settle on typhoon as the term of choice here, as the story is focussed on Asia-Pacific tropical storms.)

The main idea is to support a Die Hard-style adventure, so there are a few considerations to look at. I've got most of the main points settled, but I want to bounce some ideas off other heads to get some new perspective.

I won't post all of my thinking at once, otherwise it'll take me forever to get the OP together.

Outline
Japan, or a consortium of Asia-Pacific nations, builds an ocean-going platform thousands of metres high that can intercept and follow a typhoon. It is arrayed with a variety of experimental technologies that will hopefully enable it to abate or redirect a typhoon, recouping its cost by reducing the damage that major cities and nations currently suffer.

This system is called a T-CATCH (Tower for Control and Abatement of Typhoons, Cyclones or Hurricanes).

The problem is that, on its maiden voyage, it is hijacked by a team of ne'er-do-wells. What they didn’t count on are a plucky group of PCs who were in the wrong place at the wrong time…

Background Justification
The Northwest Pacific is the most active tropical cyclone region in the world, getting up to 30 storms a year. Due to global warming, this number, and their intensity, is increasing year by year, with an associated increase cost in civic, economic and human terms.

I couldn't find a good breakdown of overall annual costs for Japan or Asia, but Typhoon Hagibis (2019), which directly hit Tokyo, had an estimated damage of $15B, damaged or destroyed 90,000 buildings and killed 98 people. (For extra context, Katrina caused $250B damage and Harvey was evaluated at $125B.) Typhoon Jebi, the year before, caused $12.8B damage when it hit Osaka. These two alone amount to $27B, which is close to the annual $28B that American governments spend on hurricane cleanup.

Those are the sums which are hoped to be recouped from this project. In terms of modern investment in megascale projects then, China spent $22B on the Three Gorges Dam, while Kansai International Airport cost $29B. Comparing to really tall buildings, as another cost index, Burj Kalifa only cost $1.5B, while the proposed 3000m Ultima Tower is estimated to cost $150B.

As far as money goes then, I think it's in the realm of possibility to outlay a fairly hefty sum, say, in the hundreds of billions, to try to get this monster built.

---


Anyway, that's enough to get started. I'll get more into engineering and abatement strategies in later posts. But with what I've given so far, what do people think? What would such a megastructure look like? How would it be built? How would it operate?
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

Link doesn't work for me, did you mean this?

http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=166542
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Old 05-23-2020, 11:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daigoro View Post
Tower for Control and Abatement of Typhoons, Cyclones or Hurricanes: T-CATCH

In a realistic to semi-rubbery cyberpunk setting, mainly TL9 but looking at advances in megastructure engineering, what would a typhoon abatement platform look like? (I'll settle on typhoon as the term of choice here, as the story is focussed on Asia-Pacific tropical storms.)

How would it operate?
The last point is the problem. The energy in a typhoon is immense, and extracting it has you working on the wrong end of the second law of thermodynamics.

Does your plot work if the project is fraudulent? Discovering that would be a useful additional twist mid-adventure.
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Old 05-23-2020, 11:04 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

Yep, sorry. Link fixed.
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Old 05-23-2020, 12:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The last point is the problem. The energy in a typhoon is immense, and extracting it has you working on the wrong end of the second law of thermodynamics.
Very much this..


A good passage from wikipedia on this:
Quote:
Scientists estimate that a tropical cyclone releases heat energy at the rate of 50 to 200 exajoules (10e18 J) per day,[28] equivalent to about 1 PW (10e15 watt). This rate of energy release is equivalent to 70 times the world energy consumption of humans and 200 times the worldwide electrical generating capacity, or to exploding a 10-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes.
And you are trying to pull energy out of the system, not add.
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Old 05-23-2020, 12:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

I don't think you can hope to abate it.

Can you perhaps divert it? Catch it early enough and shove it a few degrees off course?

But the most practical (and that doesn't mean I think it would work) means of doing that would probably be satellites with high-powered IR lasers.
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Old 05-23-2020, 12:42 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

Maybe a floating OTEC plant so there is less of a warm layer of water to power a typhoon in the first place. The generated power can be used for propulsion and pumping up more cold water.
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

The only way I could see this possibly working is if there's some point or stage in the ongoing 'process' of a hurricane that is vulnerable to disruption. What that would be is a good question, but if such a thing were discovered then maybe the tower concept might be workable. The equivalent of stopping a car or truck by disabling the spark plugs.

For believability, whatever it does should probably need time to work, not ending the storm all at once but gradually degrading it over hours and days. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if this thing needed to be inside the eye of the storm to work. That's where the 'engine' is, after all. So using it might involve bringing it through the storm walls into the eye before it can be used. I see adventure possibilities.

Note too that all that energy is going to go somewhere. A hurricane redistributes energy from the tropics toward the higher latitudes. Disrupt one and the energy has to reappear somewhere. You'll likely affect the weather over a very large region.

Hmm...that might be a plot complication. You're in the process of destabilizing Typhoon Humongous to save Tokyo or Honolulu or something, but somebody else knows that doing to is going to dump torrents of rain on him and give him major flooding trouble, and somebody else knows you're going to create a drought over him as a side effect, so they're trying to sabotage it.
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Old 05-24-2020, 01:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

Maybe the "tower" is a earthside facility controlling (tens/hundreds of) thousands (millions) of statites over the pacific ocean. The control system can redirect sunlight away from the region or towards other areas, making wind currents and pressure systems to redirect and reduce the power of typhoons.

The tower houses a huge computer complex capable not only of coordinating the statite array, but also simulating the entire pacific ocean (and therefore world) with enough detail to know how changing the exact isolation profile over a single square kilometer of ocean will affect the prevailing winds in six months.

It's not simply a classical computer model; such a simulation would be impossibly complex even with the most advanced computers. It is in fact an array of advanced neural networks, working in harmony to build a much more sophisticated set of probabilistic outcomes.

Why a tower? Frankly, it's an expression of confidence. It could be a complex of normal industrial parks or something like that, but that doesn't look like an imposing symbol of the might of technology over nature. There are practical reasons, too, but the first and foremost reason is to send a message that the tower will be a bulwark against nature.

Alternatively, the tower could be almost entirely a fusion-powered carbon scrubbing system. The lower levels might be doing the most work (in the denser atmosphere), with the upper levels being support and clean-air exhaust.

It could even be both. Fusion power plant in the basement, air scrubbers for the first km, and huge vertical air shafts for processed air passing by a vast computer science facility. Near the peak, a comlink array and quarters for the command team. At the very top, the command center, safely positioned above easy access from air travel, but below orbital paths, making it (theoretically) safe from invasion, and hard for PCs to directly jump to.
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Old 05-24-2020, 02:24 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Cyberpunk Engineering Challenge] #2 Typhoon Abatement Platform

It's probably easier to deflect typhoons than to disrupt them, but they're affected by the terrain they're passing over, so sufficiently large megastructures should affect them.
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