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Hurricane-killing wave pump
Hurricane-killing wave pump
How it works: The contraption is basically a ring several hundred feet in diameter, with layers of old tires making up the outer wall.

In the middle, a funnel runs down several hundred feet into the ocean. The force of waves breaking over the outer tire ring forces warm water down the funnel. It mixes with the cooler water below before rising to the surface again, colder than before. This would create a constant exchange of warm and cold water.

Why it might succeed: Hurricanes rely on warm water for their strength, this process denies them that and may weaken the storms, said Ken Caldeira, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution who, along with Bill Gates, is one of the scientists who came up with the idea. It may also absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, since cold water dissolves more CO2 than warm water.

Why it might not succeed: Some question how much carbon it can absorb, and also whether it could be deployed on a scale that would weaken a big storm. Others say it will simply make hurricanes go elsewhere.

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Last updated December 02 2009: 10:52 AM ET
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