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Thursday, January 23, 2003

Turning Desert into Tropics

Where desert meets ocean, Peru.
Where desert meets ocean, Peru.
Credit: Unknown
(CNN) - Coastal deserts could turn green thanks to a new project that combines wind power and sea water to make rain. A research team led by Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh is developing mobile wind-driven turbines, 40 meters (131 ft) in diameter, that spray vaporized sea water into the air, increasing humidity and, in turn, the likelihood of rain. "If it works the pay-off could be enormous, right from putting out bush fires to pushing back the desert," Salter said on Wednesday. The turbines, which would be mounted on hundreds of catamaran-like barges, could be used to boost rainfall in some of the world's driest areas. The engineering professor said he had found no major flaws in the idea. "I'm putting a big part of my research into this and so far I haven't come across any impossible show-stoppers." In theory water vapor sprayed from slits in the turbine rotors will partially evaporate in the air from the turbine wake. Residual salt will fall back into the sea and humidified air be blown inland to produce rain as it hits high ground.

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- posted by Alex @ 6:47 EST