Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2021-09-14 08:53:10 –
Cape Coral, Florida — A Norwegian company says there are ways to prevent storms from occurring in major hurricanes before they reach the coastline — but environmental engineers say that such a system is unintended. It warns that it may have consequences.
OceanTherm states that bubble curtain technology could be a way to limit the effects of tropical storms. Ocean Therm CEO Olav Hollingsaeter says disturbing images from Hurricane Katrina led him to seek a solution.
“I’ve been thinking about this since Katrina came to Louisiana in 2005,” said Holling Sweater.
Warm water temperatures push Katrina-like storms into major hurricanes. Researchers fear that more intense and frequent storms may continue to occur, as seawater temperatures are expected to continue to rise due to climate change.
Sea surface temperatures above 80 degrees accelerate the development and intensification of tropical systems. However, OceanTherm believes bubble curtain technology can help reduce these temperatures.
Their plans include a ship that deploys perforated pipes that release air bubbles and pushes colder seawater to the surface. It needs to lower the water temperature and cut off the supply of hot water storms.
Ultimately, the goal is to build a system large enough to span the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. The project is in the early stages of development, but Hollingsaeter said the recent simulation was successful.
“At 100 meters, we found water that was cold enough to reduce the surface temperature below 80 degrees Celsius,” says Hollingsaeter.
Despite recent success, Hollingsaeter said funding is a challenge. The next steps in the project will include onshore and offshore demonstrations, both of which are estimated to cost millions of dollars.
“We’re doing commercial validation. It’s an offshore test, with a lot of engineering and development, so it comes with a $ 14.5 million price tag,” says Hollingsaeter.
It may seem expensive, but compare those numbers to the hurricane damage.
The total price for all bubble curtain field tests is $ 17.3 million. That’s inferior to the $ 283 billion damage caused by the 2017 storm, according to NOAA. That year was chosen as the most expensive hurricane season on record due to storms such as Maria, Irma and Harvey.
Hollingsaeter explained that researchers found that bubble curtains had no long-term effects on ocean currents, but environmental engineer and research scientist Dr. Tracy Fanara said the potential impact on blue-green algae in the bay. I was more concerned about.
“Changing one thing has a domino effect on what can happen,” Fanara said. “The red tide in Florida can force upwelling events to move those cells from bottom to top.”
Aside from upwelling concerns, Fanara pointed out the benefits of the hurricane season. The tropical system brings long-awaited rainfall to the community and helps replenish dry aquifers.
But Fanara said these concerns weren’t necessarily the reason for abandoning the project altogether, and that bubble curtains could even be applied on a smaller scale.
“One thing is to bring the surface temperature closer to the shore so that there is no increase in strength,” Fanara said. “But what is imminent in the natural processes of our planet is that we do not fully understand it.”
She explained that researchers always learn from experimental projects and apply the results to other areas of the future.
Nevertheless, Hollingsaeter is determined to continue the project and prevent hurricanes from causing future destruction. He also said the company hopes to eventually use bubble curtain technology to restore dying coral reefs.
This story was originally published by Lauren Petrelli at the Scripps Station WFTX In Fort Myers, Florida.