OceanTherm officials hope that by placing pockets of air deep within the waves, they will be able to lower the ocean’s temperature, thereby depriving the storm of the energy it needs to turn into a hurricane.

Hurricanes form when warm water evaporates from the ocean’s surface and meets cold winds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The risk of a tropical storm turning into a full-blown hurricane is greatest when the surface temperature exceeds 26.5°C.

By placing a bubble curtain in strategic areas of the Gulf of Mexico, OceanTherm hopes to keep surface temperatures below this critical point during hurricane season, thus reducing the risk of disaster. Olaf Hollingseter, the company’s chief executive, said the idea first came to him after witnessing the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

– At a depth of 100 meters we found the water cold enough to bring the surface temperature below 26.5NSOlaf Hollingseter J. said:
Similar techniques have been used for years to keep the Norwegian fjords ice-free in the winter. However, OceanTherm says it now intends to set the bubble curtain to a depth of 200 metres, its deepest application to date.

Bubble curtain construction would be very expensive and would cost (including tests) about $17 million. Given the devastation caused by hurricanes, this investment could pay off.

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