Building floating structures in the ocean sounds great, and maybe there are ways to avoid dangerous areas with big waves and hurricanes… but where are those areas exactly? Can seasteading ever happen near me?
The ocean is a big place, it covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and even when including Exclusive Economic Zones (a range of oceans off the coast of a country that nations can lay claim to the resources of) only 57% of the Earth’s surface has any sort of claim laid to it, leaving the other 43% completely open and unrestricted. But the remaining 43% of the Earth’s surface, while it may be a larger surface area than all land nations combined, is not habitable. Large swaths of this ocean are located in polar regions, like the North Sea or the Antarctic Sea. These areas see huge storms and enormous average wave heights. Rogue Waves near Alaska can be taller than most ships that sail through the area, but waters closer to the equator see mild winds and small waves by comparison.
Get too far south and you will enter Hurricane Alley, and there isn’t just one Hurricane spawning region on the planet, there are five.
Near North America, they are called Hurricanes, while in Asia they are called Typhoons, and in the Indian Ocean, the swirling storms are often called cyclones. Hurricanes can also very rarely appear off the coast of Brazil, but when this happens they come careening into land almost immediately and fizzle out. While Hurricanes do form closer to the equator and are fueled by warm water, near the equator itself they are unable to form due to the Coriolis Effect. This means that narrow bands a few hundred miles across wrap around the Earth which are perfectly habitable and fit for Seasteading. The benefit of these regions is compounded because warm surface waters like those found at the equator increase the efficiency of OTEC-based power generators.
The ocean has many different biomes. Things like salinity, temperature, average wave height, and algae ecosystems can change rapidly from location to location, even if it all looks similar from above the waves. Of all the factors to take into consideration, the most important for human habitation will be wave height, hurricane frequency, surface temperature, and the average force and likelihood of Rogue Waves.
While future seasteads will likely be made from Ultra High Performance Concrete, there is always a limit to what engineering can manage, and how much rocking and swaying people will want to live in. If we assume that seasteads ought to be limited to reasonably calm waters, and further separate seasteads into ones that will be reliant on a parent nation, versus ones that will be fully independent, we end up with two different maps of the optimal locations to place a seastead. One is habitable zones only for the brave, those who wish to venture far from civilization and colonize the great Blue without much outside support. The other map includes optimal zones inside of the EEZ of established countries. At the end of the day, we end up with roughly a 70/30 split of fully independent territory, versus territory that is partially claimed by a nation-state. The final map produced shows us the optimal locations in both situations where seasteading civilizations could arise.
So what does all of this information tell us? Well to start with, it doesn’t mean that you have to be in one of these areas to live in a seastead structure. Any coastal waters will generally be safe enough to live in but for deep sea seasteading, the environment, climate, and biome that you are in matters enormously in determining whether or not you can maintain a long-term presence there safely. This is not so much a map of where seasteading is possible, but more so a map of where it is optimal, and where we can likely look forward to seeing the future of seasteading blossom.
As you can tell, more space is open in the southern hemisphere than in the northern, this should come as no surprise since the northern hemisphere contains most of our land mass, therefore the south will contain a disproportionate amount of habitable ocean.
Which areas will be filled first? Anyone can guess.