The Guardian reports, after the devastation of Sandy, which may have caused $30 billion in damages, a radical geo-engineering idea by scientist Professor Stephen Salter, backed by Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold is drawing some attention again.
Developed after the last major US Hurricane-related tragedy, Katrina, which struck New Orleans and caused an estimated $81 billion damage, the Salter Sink is beautiful in its simplicity, using hundreds of 100m (300feet) long tubes held up by old car tyres and the natural action of waves to mix warm surface water, the main driver of hurricanes, with cool deep sea water.
Each degree centigrade of difference can drop a hurricane by one scale, from scale 5 to scale 4 for example, and if surface temperature can be dropped below 26.5 degrees hurricanes can not form at all.
"If you can cool the sea surface, you would calm the hurricanes. I estimate you would need about 150-450 of these structures. They would drift around and send out radar signals so that no one would collide with them," he said.
The pumps would be located in "hurricane alley", the warm corridor in the Atlantic through which the most damaging storms typically develop and pass.
Salter claims that the hydrological problems have been solved but that research funding is urgently needed.
"The Salter Sink concept is delightfully simple and singularly gargantuan," the company said in a statement posted on its website . "It has captured our imagination here in the lab. We have done some experiments and computational modelling work to validate this idea, but a lot more research needs to be done by experts in related fields such as climate science and oceanography, and we need partners to pursue the project further."
The company is being backed by Intellectual Ventures, run by Microsoft alumni Nathan Myhrvold and also Bill Gates. With hurricanes in the Caribbean and USA estimated to have costs $200 billion in damages over the last 10 years, and 7 out of the 10 most damaging happening in the last 10 years also, it seems that this is an idea who’s time has come.
See a more detailed description of the device below.
Picture via Nextbigfuture.com