University of Miami's hurricane tank simulates storms for scientists

Researchers from the University of Miami have started looking more closely into category five hurricanes this month. No, not by chasing them around — they’re thankfully quite rare — but by simulating their effects inside a huge indoor tank. Oceanographers from the institute built the 66 x 20 foot tank officially called SUSTAIN or Surge-Structure-Atmosphere Interaction Facility on an island off the coast of Florida. The scientists merely have to flip a switch for the paddles inside to start churning the waters and for fans to begin mimicking howling winds — in just few minutes, it all turns into a small-scale storm.

Earlier versions of SUSTAIN could only recreate category three hurricanes, and the same applies for other wind-wave simulators around the world. The current tank in Florida was designed to help scientists understand what happens during the strongest storms ever, where waves crash with devastating force and wind speeds exceed 158 mph. According to Nature, UM’s researchers will start by finding out how oil spills disperse during a category 5 hurricane and how strong aquaculture nets for fish farms have to be to withstand one.

They might also stick miniature buildings and even a tiny Port of Miami in the tank to see how long they can remain standing while the system pummels them with exceedingly strong waves and winds. The scientists believe that data from their experiments will help improve forecasts for super strong hurricanes in the future. That, in turn, will allow the government to issue more accurate warnings and to evacuate people a lot earlier if needed.

Filed under:


Source: Nature

Source: Engadget - Read the full article here

Author: Daily Tech Whip

This article is part of our 'News Tiles' service. The site is currently in Beta. When it is fully operational you will be able to search through and arrange the 'Tiles' to display a keyword, product or technology over your chosen time period. For example you would be able to display all of the leading tech articles on the new Kindle Fire, in one spot in real time. You will also have access to our own original reporting and analysis as well as a polished place to post your own thoughts & reviews here, amongst the Daily Tech Whip Community. Please let us know if you have any feedback via the contact form or via Twitter. Don't forget to come back next week and see our full site and claim your name and your own free tech blog.

Share This Post On