Natural breakwaters / avoiding waves with geography
June 17, 2009 at 8:28 pm #963
I’m thinking that perhaps we should expand our current “Breakwater Research” initiative to include other methods of wave mitigation, like locating places that don’t have big waves. I have been thinking lately that we have been under-exploring this area. It has long-term disadvantages, because it just gets us one (or a few) spots, rather than the whole “turnkey infrastructure for new countries”, but it will be much easier to start. Examples of what I’m thinking of are:
* The Doldrums. Just how much smaller are the waves? I hear they still get occasional storms.
* Protected seas. Are there international waters in the Baltic? The Mediterranean? How big are the waves there?
* Reefs, seamounts, and other almost-islands. Are there places like the [Minerva Reefs](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minerva_Reefs) where a reef is high enough to serve as a breakwater (or base for one), but does not qualify as currently being land (is not above the water at mean tide)? (But ideally without the current Tonga / Fiji dispute over jurisdiction that the Minerva Reefs have). Something like the [Cortes Bank](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortes_Bank), but > 200nm from land (Cortes Bank is 50m from San Clemente Island and only 115 from San Diego).
Do y’all agree that this area is worth looking into? It seems like an oceanography internship might be the ideal way to explore these questions…we need someone who knows where to find historical wave data and bathymetric data and run searches on it.June 17, 2009 at 9:09 pm #6591
Avoiding the heavy waves is an excellent pursuit. I have several hundred MB of bathymetric and NOAA datasets that I could check out. Give me a bit…June 17, 2009 at 9:37 pm #6594
I have a CD of bathymetric data as well, some version of this:
But from 5+ years ago. We can start by identifying seamounts not within 200nm of land, and then figure out waves…June 17, 2009 at 10:06 pm #6596
It seems like a short term solution to me. The majority of the worlds oceans do not qualify, and people are going to want to expand out to them, so seasteads capable of surviving storms and waves are still going to be needed. Plus all it takes is one good storm destroying the seastead or killing people and your out a lot of money and have gained very bad publicity. At most the problem gets postponed a few decades.
However, such a place (maybe a boat community) would make a great basestead, could help grow the movement, and would probably get everything rolling faster and cheaper. And we could all leave when bad storms were coming, particularly if we had boats instead of a stationary/slow moving seastead. By the time seasteading outgrew the limited locale there might be more money, experience and better technology behind it.June 18, 2009 at 2:55 am #6599
I’ve got several Google Earth overlays that show wave height distribution, and very recent wave height/wind speed data as well. Give me some time to go through all my stuff and I’ll see what I can send along.
It seems like a short term solution to me.
Well the doldrums are pretty huge, but you are correct that it is probably a short-term solution. But we put the first seasteads into calm waters until we get the technology down. Once there are several seasteads floating and prospering in calm areas we can expand into harder places.
Humans didn’t fly straight to the moon…we did some easy stuff first just to test the tech and get our feet wet. Once we were comfortable we moved to tougher stuff.June 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm #6631
TSI should definitely put a good portion of its resources into finding an ideal geographic location to begin its operation – both political and physical. This means maximum autonomy, calm weather, and a reasonably comfortable climate. This may require a sacrifice of accessibility, which, in turn, will dictate the economic uses to which it the first SeaStead is put. I imagine that a distant outpost would be more conducive to medical tourism than a hotel/casino, for example. We should probably send out some feelers to nonconventional biotech industrialists, to see what kind of interest such an outpost may generate.
Since the first SeaStead should also be the least controvercial, it would also be good to know which areas of environmental research and/or oceanography could generate the greatest private funds. An energy-from-trash plant could serve as a focal point for an environmentally friendly community – and a magnet for positive publicity. What are the calmest/shallowest areas located in the garbage patch?June 19, 2009 at 1:13 pm #6634
There is a .KMZ file on sea floor depths available for Google earth on that NOAA page:
Smith, are those wave height overlays publicly available somewhere?June 19, 2009 at 4:28 pm #6636
The National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) at the NOAA has a large number of moored and floating buoys that report real-time data. The only ones that have wave height data are the moored NDBC stations. Go to http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/obs.shtml to get the map of all their buoys, but in the upper-left window at the top that says “Program Filter” put a check in the box that says “NDBC Meteorological/Ocean” and that will only show the NDBC stations. You can then click on a buoy on the map to see wave height data.
Also at the NDBC site are the ship observations reports (http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/ship_obs.php). Not all ships report wave height and period but you can scroll through the list to see the ones that do.
Yet another great map tool at the NOAA is the Ocean and Weather Data Navigator (http://dapper.pmel.noaa.gov/dchart/index.html). They have a ton of datasets, but many are atmospheric so not much use the water observations. The ones I find the best are the ARGO profiling floats for water temperature data and the TAO Array time series for wind speed/direction. To use the map, first click on a dataset (such as Ocean in-situ TAO Array Time Series), then click on a variable to check (such as wind speed). It will then show you all the stations available on the map, and you can select them with the mouse. At the bottom you can use the Station Filter to change the lat/lon or the time. Then choose a plot type…if you choose a normal plot it will display it right on the page…or you can Export to Google Earth to create an overlay. Once you are done click the Plot Selected button at the top. You can explore the datasets to find all kinds of stuff…for instance the PMEL and PRIDE datasets have nice sea level rise data, and the Meteorological Reanalysis NCEP/NCAR Other Gauss datasets can show you global mean total cloud cover and downward solar radiation flux.
More NOAA goodness is the NOAA Coastal Services Center viewer for Historical Hurricane Tracks (http://csc-s-maps-q.csc.noaa.gov/hurricanes/viewer.html) In the Query By: section click on Climatology and then choose a region. You can choose All Storms or pick specific size storms, then you can pick the date…All Years and All Months or specific years/groups of years. Once you hit submit it will draw the tracks on the map. I I have made Google Earth overlays for many of these tracks, but they aren’t the best. You can export into GIS format so I’m trying to see if I can make something better. BTW, once the tracks are on the map click the LEGEND button at the top-left to see what the colors mean.
One I have not played with much is the Observing System Monitoring Center (http://www.osmc.noaa.gov/index.jsp?pg=viewers&pa=viewers). They have viewers for a ton of stuff, but it never works okay for me. They have a Google Earth viewer but it doesn’t seem to work.
At the StormSurf site (http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu.html) you can see some wave height models using either the Wavewatch IIII or Jason-1 systems. Nice maps there. This page (http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/waves/main_table.html) has direct links to the images.
You can also find wave data via ship and buoy observations in the ClearPoint Weather system. They have a free Google Earth KMZ file at http://weather.wdtinc.com/clients/google/kml/shipandbuoy/buoyShip.kmz that will show you ship and buoy observations auto-refreshed every 30-min. They all have water and air temp readings, and many of them have wave height data as well.
For seamounts, you can check Seamounts Online (http://pacific.sdsc.edu/seamounts/#) which you can search and even export to Google Earth as an overlay. EarthRef.org (http://earthref.org/cgi-bin/er.cgi?s=sc-s0-main.cgi) has a really nice Flash-based map. I have several files with thousands of seamount coordinates…I could post them if the site had a file repository or something.
Whew. That’s a lot. I might have even more stuff, but this is a quick list of the tools that I have used.June 19, 2009 at 5:31 pm #6637
I actually just found an AWESOME utility that allows you to convert GIS files into KMLs for opening in Google Earth. I now have several KML files in Google Earth that show all Atlantic hurricane tracks from the 1800s to today, color-coded to see storm severity (in each section of it’s path no less!). You can also click on each part of the storm track to see name, severity, date, etc. VERY COOL!! This is much better than the JPGs that I converted into overlays. Once I have them working just right I’ll see if I can get them online somewhere.
I’m going to do some searching and see what other oceanographic data is available in GIS format.June 19, 2009 at 8:01 pm #6641
I can’t believe I forgot this site:
Just click on Weather Observations at the top, then click on Wave Height. It gets it’s data from buoy (moored and drifting) and ship observations. You can click on the Ship Tracker to see all of the data points. Very cool. No Google Earth link but I should be able to grab the spreadsheet data and dump it into a KML file at some point.June 20, 2009 at 12:28 pm #6646
Take a look at the Great Meteor Tablemount (La 29.93, Lo -28.48). It has a depth of 256 at its summit, and could provide an anchor point for a MedStead. Its vast plataeu could provide a fine aquaculture field and/or underwater community down the road. It is also a point of interest for oceanographic research.June 22, 2009 at 8:19 pm #6674
Patri, you’ve asked: Are there international waters in the Baltic? The Mediterranean?
From what I’ve learnt on wikipedia, neither the Baltic nor the Mediterranean hold International waters. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_waterway)
Lasse Birk Olesen comments seems to confirmed this fact:
The lack of international waters in the Baltic and Mediterranean is an unwelcome circumstance as both seas offer relatively calm waters and are surrounded by many competing nation states.
Patri (remember me from your visit in Copenhagen?) I think I understand the reasoning behind your “Natural Breakwater Initiative”: The legal constraints of setting up and immovable platform in countries territorial and EEZ waters renders seasteads in coastal waters political risky. A natural course of action would be to set up shop outside the EEZ (200nm away from a country’s coastline), that is in international waters.
Besides the environmental considerations another factor determining the location of an high seas seasteads are the existing trade routes. The cost of delivering supplies, equipment and personnel is much lower if freighters could simply “stop along their usual route”. Many cities in medieval Europe were founded this way. The following is a link to the trade routes in the North Pacific of the Hanjin Line: http://www.freightercruises.com/08/06/-news.html#anchor-transpacific.June 23, 2009 at 11:11 pm #6686
Legal considerations aside, the Baltic is pretty cold and nasty at least half of the year. Not my idea of a good seasteading environment.
And it might be somewhat calmer than the Atlantic, for instance, but I hardly think it fits any reasonable definition of “calm” waters. I’m not a sailor or expert though, just a landlubber in Stockholm.June 24, 2009 at 3:06 am #6688
I was going to upload this stuff to the Wiki, but you cannot upload KMZ or any other kind of Google Earth file. So I just shared them on my ADrive account.
Overlay showing North and South Atlantic wave heights, based on the JASON-1 system, for different time periods.
Culled from the 14000+ seamounts listed in the SeaAroundUs.org seamount database. Only lists those that have an average depth higher than 400m.
Also from the 14000+ SeaAroundUs.org database. This only shows seamounts with a depth higher than 100m…not average depth just highest point.
This shows EEZ data for the entire globe…includes disputed EEZ borders.
If you are looking for a mooring location that is in sorta sheltered waters you can look at the Vitoria-Trindade Seamounts, at 20.652516S 34.766171W. It’s 300nm east off the Brazil coast, and some of the seamounts are only 10m below the surface. I wouldn’t want to be so close to shore, but it might be a nice place for an early seastead.
EDIT: Sep2011 updated links
EDIT: Replaced links with Dropbox links that don’t expire.June 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm #6693
I found this NOAA page that has historical data from the WaveWatch III system:
You can see wave height (Hs) and peak period (Tp) for any month going back to 1997 as an animated GIF. There is even a link to the binary data in GRIB (gridded binary) format on their FTP server. There are some free utilities that will let you look at GRIB data. I’m downloading some of the GRIB data now…I’ll see what I can do with it.
Unfortunately Google Earth cannot display animated GIFs as overlays…which would be sweet for these images. I’ll see what I can do with the raw data.
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