Can we freeze the tsunami?

Fiction & Science

To freeze water, you don’t have to be the character Sub-Zero from the beloved game Mortal Kombat. Nowadays you can just put your water in the freezer, wait a few minutes, and the job is done. But what do you do if you want to freeze a few million liters of the liquid that are moving at you at a speed of 500 miles or 800 km per hour?

It is at such a pace that the most destructive waves on the planet - tsunami - sweep across the open oceans. Transforming an enormous body of water into a giant hunk of ice would be a challenge even for the likes of Sub-Zero, but I can tell you what it will take to accomplish such a thing. Let's remember just why these deadly waves do occur.

As there is no smoke without fire, so a tsunami is not an independent phenomenon. It appears as a result of underwater earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, meteorite falls, or comets.

Basically, any large disturbance in the water can raise waves tens of feet high. And to add insult to injury, getting away from a tsunami is almost impossible. Once this gigantic displacement of water reaches land, the water moves at a speed of 6 to 12 miles, or 10 to 20 kilometers, per hour.

Unless you happen to already be in a car on a road leading in the right direction and can drive away from this multi-million- ton liquid monster, the streets will turn into small rivers before you can even think about getting into a vehicle.

Getting out of the path of the tsunami is also rarely an option unless you are lucky enough to be near one of its edges - the total tsunami width averages from between 60 to 120 miles (that’s from between 96 to 123 km).
Credit to YouTube channel ( Ridddle )

But, if this terrifying natural disaster catches you in the midocean, you might just survive... as long as you are as far as possible from the coastline! If you are aboard a ship, and a tsunami sneaks up behind you, and land is not visible you can relax.

Interestingly, under such conditions, the height of a tsunami will be a maximum of measly 2 feet (or about 60 cm), and not an inch more! You might not even notice it passing by. But everything changes fundamentally when this false tide reaches the shore.

The massive wave is now drastically and suddenly reduced in length, its energy and mass bunching up, whereupon it begins climbing, reaching a height of as much as 100 feet (that’s 30 meters), or even more! 10 to 15 minutes of this colossal assault is all it takes to bring everything to hell and ruin, flooding entire cities and anything else that stands in the way of this ruthless, relentless elemental beast.

The most powerful and highest tsunami on record occurred in the year 1958 near Alaska. The wave rose risen to a record 1,720 feet or 524 meters! This is higher than the Eiffel Tower, or the former World Trade Center in New York! This wasn’t just a tsunami this was a mega-tsunami.

This wave of waves had so much force that it uprooted thousands of trees and it also stole away about a hundred human lives... And although it was the most powerful tsunami recorded to date, it wasn’t the deadliest...

In 2011, a large-scale tsunami disaster in Japan - where the word “tsunami” originates sadly claimed the lives of 15,000 people. And prior to that, in 2004, a gigantic super-tsunami that started off the coast of Indonesia resulted in the deaths of over 230,000 people across 14 countries. As much as we would like for such disasters to remain in the past, the likelihood of a new tsunami appearing is actually increasing every day, according to some researchers!

At first glance, the reasoning behind the increased chance for more tsunamis is far from obvious. But scientists say it is due to global warming! Melting glaciers could result in ice landslides, and the fall of huge rocky, icy slopes. If large enough, such a thing could result in a devastating, giant wave!

As a matter of fact, the record-breaking tsunami near Alaska occurred just for the same reason. Such dark prospects are stimulating the best minds in the world to figure out how to save millions of lives from future water-borne cataclysms.

A physicist at the University of Cardiff, Professor Usama Kadri, Kadri has proposed to solve the issue using sound.

For example, by blasting at full volume the latest Justin Bieber album, as a result of which the tsunami simply be scared away. Okay, I kid. In reality, the scientist was referring to the use of gravitational sound waves.

Their energy should be enough, he theorizes, to disperse the impending giant wave! Though, to be sure, nobody yet knows how to create such a device capable of first predetermining the approach of a tsunami, and secondly, generating and releasing such a gravitational sound assault in response, not even Professor Kadri himself.

There is a chance that in the future this problem will be solved. Meanwhile, scientists are still considering all other possible options for combatting tsunamis.

The Japanese recently decided to approach this conundrum by building a giant wall along the coast of their island nation., in order to protect the land of the Rising Sun from these giant waves, the length of the “great Japanese wall” will be more than 248 miles, or 400 km, with a height of about 50 feet (or 15 meters)!

However, skeptics believe that such a structure, although it would look pretty darn cool, would be unlikely to protect the country in every tsunami emergency. Tsunamis that reach higher than the intended wall have been recorded throughout history.

In addition, building such a construction along the Japanese coastline is going to have a highly negative impact on the environment in those regions. But even if Japan does fence itself off from tsunamis with concrete walls.

what will the rest of the planet do? It is time to call Sub-Zero for some help because we’re going to fight this water monster with a cold! The idea of nipping one of these H20 beasts in the bud, before it reaches the shore, when it’s just getting started, may seem quite obvious at first glance.

But this is a common misconception. In order to freeze a wave below the surface, and at a fairly hefty depth, would require turning an entire ocean into ice, which is completely and utterly impossible. Therefore, it would be better and more practical to start our freezing process closer to the shore, where the waves gain their maximum height.

At this stage, we need to throw out all our preconceptions and beliefs about water freezing at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius. For fast-moving streams of water, lower temperatures are required.

The volume of the tsunami will be somewhere around 100 million liters, So, to turn this amount of water into a glacier, we will need a temperature of around minus -148 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s about minus -100 degrees Celsius)!! Hearing these numbers, Sub-Zero begins to beat a hasty retreat. But this is no problem, we can cope without him. Though for a freezing operation of such scale we will need to arm ourselves with a lot of freezers. Did I say a lot of freezers?

Yes, we will need about 900,000 of these babies! And they will all need to work continuously for about a month. In the end, they will use approximately 13,375,000 kWh of energy. This is the power required to glaciate the wave. Our only problem is, as you may have guessed, we need to do it a lot faster than a month.

Tsunamis, as previously mentioned, though not exactly speedy, move a lot faster than that, and before you know it, the pretty little metropolis you call home will be underwater.

So, let’s imagine that - somehow - we’ve managed to do the impossible and the tsunami is now frozen. But really this ice sculpture is going to need to be moved somewhere, otherwise, it will melt and complete its destructive work.

You could try to crush it and hand out martinis to everyone nearby to celebrate the passing of the tsunami danger, but this will devastate neighboring settlements with the scourge of alcoholism, thus ruining the local economies. It’s probably a better idea to take this “wealth” of ice somewhere far away with the help of big trucks.

The most suitable option for work like this is something called the BelAZ-75710 - the biggest dump truck in the world! with a total loading capacity of a gargantuan 450 tons, we’ll only need a mere 220 thousand of these giants to cope with our load of tsunami ice.

But there is a slight problem. There are only 3 BelAZ dump trucks in the whole world! We do have some other options: for example, there’s the KAMAZ dump truck with a loading capacity of 40 tons.

It’s no slouch. But, unfortunately, it will take 2.5 million of these machines to get the job done. And again, they simply don’t exist in numbers like these.

In fact, to even just get started, we’d have to use every existing dump truck on the planet. Long story short: freezing a tsunami and the subsequent transportation of its ice to another location is an almost impossible task for mere mortals to try to perform It’s difficult to imagine such a thing as a frozen tsunami happening in the natural world.

But in all actuality, something similar does occur in real life. They call this phenomenon the “ice tsunami”. It is, of course, not a real tsunami, but the sight of such a spectacle is exciting nonetheless. This phenomenon occurs not in oceans, but in lakes.

When a thaw comes, the first cracks develop on the solid ice “mirror” on the surface of the lake. Strong winds then send the scattered blocks of ice towards the coast, as a result of which they split and start piling up on top of each other.

These solid ice waves may even come ashore, which scares the screamin’ bejesus out of the locals. And sometimes ice rising from an ice tsunami can even invade human dwellings, if they are too close to the shoreline. However, this phenomenon isn’t particularly dangerous.

At least you can run away from it heck, you can walk away from it in contrast to a real tsunami, which I think we now finally understand cannot be thwarted by low temperatures. Though you know, perhaps we can freeze something else to stop a tsunami?

As I said, global warming and melting glaciers are only increasing the likelihood of a tsunami. And if we can manage to reduce this effect by getting the temperature of the planet a few degrees lower, then there will be one less reason for these destructive waves to form in the first place.

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