Hurricane Intensity Could Be Reduced By Pumping Cold Deep Ocean Water To Surface

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Using its wave-activated deep ocean pumps strategically placed in the Gulf of Mexico, Atmocean, Inc. thinks it can reduce the intensity of hurricanes targeting the Gulf Coast states. With testing and computer simulations now underway showing excellent results, the idea (which seemed far-fetched when first introduced), is gaining credibility.

Atmocean, Inc., a Santa Fe, NM-based technology development company, thinks it has a way to reduce the peak wind speeds of Gulf of Mexico hurricanes such as Katrina – and it will be asking top scientists attending the 2006 Ocean Sciences Conference at the Honolulu Convention Center if they agree.

Atmocean, Inc.’s CEO Philip Kithil said the invention involves pumping cold deep water to the ocean surface using the Company’s wave-driven deep ocean pumps. For each 0.5 degree Celsius drop in surface water temperature, hurricane top winds may decrease by up to 10%, according to recent scientific reports.

While the idea seems far-fetched to many casual observers, it is grounded on the well-known correlation of increased hurricane intensity and warmer sea surface temperatures. What distinguishes this undertaking is the Company’s total systems approach as well as its low-cost, easy to deploy, deep ocean pump design which has seen excellent results in ocean testing begun last fall. No external energy source is needed as the pumps convert wave energy to pumping action. The Company’s proposal is to activate its pumps, creating a cold water barrier in the central Gulf of Mexico, when a dangerous storm approaches, then disable the pumps after the storm passes, to minimize adverse effects on marine biology. Computer simulations have been run for Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Dennis (2005) which show significant reduction in intensity caused by the cold water barrier.

In terms of cost, Kithil says “damages from the 2005 Gulf of Mexico hurricanes were much, much greater than the cost of deploying our system – even before considering the loss of lives and economic disruption.”

As a key element of his systems approach, Kithil thinks Congress should enact a Hurricane Mitigation Trust Fund – similar to our Highway Trust Fund that has funded our interstate highway network since the 1950’s. “After all, hurricanes are here to stay, and most scientists see no end in sight to increased hurricane intensity caused by the surface warming of our oceans. Congress needs to be proactive both on mitigation and on repairing the damage afterward.”

Kithil says Atmocean, Inc. is now drumming up support for the development effort, particularly focusing on the Gulf of Mexico which was especially hard-hit by last summer’s hurricanes. If his invention and systems approach is proven successful, the technology could make hurricane intensity reduction a fact of life in the Gulf of Mexico before the 2008 season strikes.


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