With climate change , extreme weather events tend to become common. As a result, ideas to reduce the effects of some of these phenomena are attracting investors’ attention. One of them is from the Norwegian startup OceanTherm, which claims to have a technology capable of “killing” hurricanes.
The idea is relatively simple, but quite daring, the company wants to use bubbles that have the function of cooling the sea temperature . This would cause the supply of hot water, which is what “feeds” the hurricanes, to be cut off, reducing the destructive power of these phenomena.
For a hurricane to have a high destructive power, as it was the case with Ida , it is necessary that the waters are at a temperature of about 27°C or more. This temperature, however, is only reached by the surface of the sea, with the deeper waters remaining much cooler.
We could really need your help to be able to undertake our R&D project that will prove whether or not we can use the bubble curtain principle to reduce the damage of hurricanes and typhoons. We are a passionate team striving to make a real difference! https://t.co/C4qEicQp8i pic.twitter.com/5ZTdHz8QXu
— OceanTherm (@OceanTherm) January 11, 2021
According to the startup’s CEO, Olav Hollingsaeter, the role of bubbles is to mix the coldest water on the seabed with which is warmer on the surface. As a result, the temperature of the water on the surface of the sea decreases, making hurricanes less dangerous.
This decrease in temperature would be possible thanks to a system that OceanTherm called the “bubble curtain”. The system involves boats that lower several tubes that are drilled to the bottom of the ocean on their way to the source of a storm .
The aim is to generate bubbles that lift the coldest and deepest waters to the surface of the sea. The company also has a concept that excludes ships from the equation, with pipes being installed at a fixed location under the ocean for areas where hurricanes are frequent.
Despite promising to “kill” hurricanes, the bubble curtain concept has not yet been tested in a real hurricane, so it is not known if it would actually be able to lessen the destruction potential of one of them. Furthermore, the environmental impact of such a system has not been factored into the account.
If you raise water from the bottom of the sea to the surface, it doesn’t come alone, it can bring fish, algae and other marine creatures with it. This has the potential to significantly disrupt some ecosystems and needs further study.
But that doesn’t discourage Hollingsaeter, who says he has plans to roll out his system across the Gulf of Mexico, which is one of the most susceptible areas for hurricanes and tropical storms on the planet. It remains to be seen whether or not the bubbles will be able to kill them.