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Decrease the Impact of Devastating Hurricanes Through Temporarily Reducing the Sea Surface Temperature

In 2005, the world watched as one of the most devastating hurricanes of all time, Hurricane Katrina, destroyed the homes of thousands and tragically took the lives of 1,800 people.

A group of Norweigan scientists watched from the other side of the world as Katrina changed the world as we know it and they asked themselves “how do we stop this from ever happening again?”

As far as natural disasters go, hurricanes and tropical storms have shown the world that they are capable of completely ruining communities, homes and hold the potential to take the lives of many. That is why OceanTherm began diligently working toward developing solutions with the aim of preventing hurricanes from having a devastating impact on the world. Ideally, OceanTherm’s solution would save human lives, the environment and the economy by minimizing the overall damages from hurricanes.

Founded in 2017, OceanTherm is a forward-thinking team of scientists from Norway who found the solution for decreasing the impact of devastating hurricanes and tropical storms by temporarily reducing the sea surface temperature in large areas when a hurricane is building up.

OceanTherm utilized the bubble curtain technology to their advantage to find a solution to this problem.

The bubble curtain technology has been used for 50 years in Norway to warm up the sea surface temperature in the winter, to avoid fjords from freezing, and now OceanTherm will use the same technology in a different way to make a bigger impact — to lower the sea surface temperature for a short time to prevent devastating natural disasters.

Hurricanes are generated when masses of hot and cold air collide above warm ocean water. The hurricanes obtain their energy from the ocean surface when the surface water temperature is above 80 °F, which is why OceanTherm aims to keep the sea surface below this temperature. The bubble curtains work by lifting colder water from an optimal depth, depending on the temperature, and mixing it with the warm surface water, and thereby reducing the sea surface temperature below 80 °F temporarily. Cooling the surface water would deprive the hurricanes of their energy source, potentially stopping them before they make landfall, or at least stopping them from developing into stronger hurricanes.

Q: How does one lower the temperature of a large body of water?

A: “Bubble Curtain” is a perforated pipe lowered in the water. This pipe is placed across a stretch of ocean, such as a narrow straight, and works by supplying bubbles of compressed air to the deep. When the bubbles rise, they bring the cold deep-sea water to the surface, and this cold water cools the warm ocean surface for a short period of time. Strong ocean currents can be considered the engine of the solution. By placing a system in strategic positions, based on research, the colder water will spread out with the help of the currents and influence a larger area, like the coast of Florida.

The technology OceanTherm developed is proven in a small scale and they aim to demonstrate that it will work at a large scale to temporarily lower the sea surface temperature and thereby reduce and stop the energy source for hurricanes to build up strength.

The bubble curtain also only changes the water temperature for a short period of time, thus not resulting in any long-term effects of sea-level temperature changing or the ecosystems that rely on it. Rather than doing responsive work, OceanTherm wants to be preventative in their practices.

“We really believe that we can do something with the problem of devastating hurricanes, and while we are both optimistic and hopeful, we are also professional in our approach,” says Olav Hollingsaeter, CEO of OceanTherm. “To our knowledge, OceanTherm is the only company that is seriously pursuing the idea of finding a solution on the increasing hurricane challenge in the world. Our research so far shows promising results, and we feel an obligation to go the distance needed to find out if our solution can be proved at scale.”

OceanTherm is looking for research partners and business partners in the US, to help take the necessary next steps in order to prove this technology at scale.

Headquartered in Norway, OceanTherm is developing a solution to end devastating natural disasters like hurricanes, tropical storms and typhoons.

Their technology lowers the sea surface temperature by lifting colder water from an optimal depth, depending on the temperature, and mixing it with the warm surface water, thereby reducing the sea surface below 80 degrees Fahrenheit inspired by Norweigan infrastructure.

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