When a typhoon as powerful as 2013’s Haiyan strikes, it can kill and displace thousands of people while effectively crippling local infrastructure. We all wish there were a reliable way to defend against the havoc these phenomena wreak. Do we have the technology to stop Mother Nature? Even if we do, should we? Japanese inventor Koichi Kitamura is raising these questions, as he may have invented a solution to these deadly storms, in the form of a fleet of specially designed submarines.
According to his patent filed with the United States in 2006, lowering the surface temperature of seawater by pumping colder water up from a lower depth could weaken or even prevent the atmospheric depression of typhoons. Because typhoons only form over warm seas, mixing the cold and warm water together could potentially suppress the evaporation of water vapors empowering such storms.
Kitamura is the president of Ise Kogyo, a hydraulic engineering company that has plans to develop submarines that will dive before the path of a typhoon and use multiple pipes to feed the colder water toward the surface. Kitamura estimates that in an hour, 20 of these remodeled submarines could lower the ocean temperature of 57,000 square meters (187,008 square feet) enough to quell a typhoon. His patent also claims that remodeling a submarine’s propulsion power into pumping power is “easy.”
Kitamura’s patent has another application. It could reduce the red tide phenomenon, preventing algal blooms that kill fish and other marine life. While many wish to avoid disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, development of this technology raises several questions. For instance, if Kitamura’s design works, can we predict a storm’s path early enough to deploy an entire fleet of these specialized submarines in time? Also, what effects will weather modification like this have on the surrounding ecosystem? As of this writing, Kitamura and Ise Kogyo have yet to produce one of these submarines. But if and when they do, what kind of results can we expect?
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