Bill Gates backing Hurricane Suppression system using car tyres, long tubes that could save billions

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

  • duk3togo

    Ok great concept saving lives and money. What’s the effect on the eco system?? If it destroys marine life we need a new concept. We destroyed the atmosphere we should then reape the benefits.

    • kevgallacher

      I can’t see it being damaging to the eco system. Granted a few fish/organisms may be sucked in through the device but would this be any more damaging than current shipping,fishing or oil exploration. Also sea life and life on land suffers from hurricanes so reducing them or even eliminating them would have more benefits which would counteract any potential losses.

      • duk3togo

        Animals feel when a storm approaches and they tend to get out of the way unlike humans. So what you are saying to add this on top of shipping, fishing or oil exploration. I say do research to the ecological consequence of the contraption.
        Most people don’t know that most of the worlds oxygen comes from the oceans.

        • kevgallacher

          Some animals maybe get out of the way.
          But habitats are destroyed such as coral reef. Debris and pollutants are washed out to sea. Sea life can become disorientated and could be displaced several miles from their habitat, nesting sites. Hurricanes also destroy trees.

    • Philipp Ton

      fcuk the system

  • Smity Smiter

    Since I’m just an “average-intelligent reader”, I do not understand how much this would effect the deep-sea. What if the continous warming of deep-sea brings about something else? What if the marine life is affected by this?

    • Ashley Warner

      It would affect the entire Eco system of the area and the Gulf Stream which would then have a more global affect on wildlife as well as other weather systems.

      • Smity Smiter

        a negative effect?

    • surur

      It could have a positive benefit actually. The circulation would bring oxygen to greater depths while bringing nutrients from lower layers to the surface. The result could be a much diversity and abundance in what has been called the Ocean Deserts.

      We are already affecting the ocean – we might as well manage it.

      • Smity Smiter

        hmm, thank you for the info.

  • Ahmad J Nicholas

    another man made scam why are people such idiots. One thing that could save lives, stop allowing housing to be built in FLOOD area.

    • nickcraze

      you sir are an idiot!!!

  • dotMorten

    you can’t lift water by suction more than 10m before it vaporizes due to the low pressure generated, so fail. Tubes would probably collapse too before
    besides this sounds scary to mess with the climate on such a large scale. Haven’t we tipped the scale enough?

    • surur

      The water is not lifted – it is pushed down by the weight of the water pushed in the pond by wave action on top.

  • grs_dev

    Sounds very impractical.

    First and foremost, Hurricanes are nature’s way of calibrating the earth’s ecosystem. Circumventing it to protect man made assets seems like a recipe for even more catastrophic disasters not a way to curb them.

    Secondly, even if the concept is proven to do no harm to the environment per se, the utilizatoin or deployment seems very counter intuitive to how marine navigation works. We’re talking about scattering these across the ocean(s), which I am presuming would require some kind of mapping model to avoid vessels of different sizes as they navigate the globe.

    On the other hand, if you think about it from an economic stand point and ignore the first point, this is a great investment especially if you can get global adoption. In one shot you’re solving a problem, creating a new problem and owning the resources to solve the latter. All vessels would probably need to become Salter Sinks Compliant by a certain year which would drive a huge deal of dollars towards shipmakers and equipment makers and management systems.

    • My Name is The Fight

      A hurricane’s purpose is to shed excess heat from the ocean. Since this process would actually aid in doing so, that first point is moot.

      2nd, an object that large can be detected via sonar.

  • MikadoWu

    When will we stop messing with Mother Nature. She is going to get Pissed, and really do some damage.