A Hurricane Chokehold
Hurricanes feed off warm water. As our oceans grow steamier, these whirlwinds gain power like supervillains. Choking off their thermal energy can sap their strength, which in turn can save lives, while also lessening the billions of dollars in damages they inflict with every season’s new landfall.
Stephen Salter, an engineer at the University of Edinburgh, created a pump that sits atop the ocean and uses wave energy to send warm water to the cold depths, where it becomes lukewarm, rises, and thus cools the surface. But to achieve the storm-stopping temperatures you need in the Atlantic Ocean’s Hurricane Alley, you’d have to deploy “wave sinks” over thousands of square miles.
As with all geoengineering interventions, this requires more research to understand collateral effects; the pumps could boost nutrient and oxygen flow and benefit marine creatures. But changing temperature could change the ecosystem, bringing harm to those creatures. The pumps might find other uses; its early backers have used them in lakes to combat zero-oxygen zones.
Far-Out Plans for Taming Our Weather