ASHBURNHAM (CBS) – Olav Hallingsaeter, a former Norwegian submarine officer turned hurricane hunter, brings Norwegian winter technology to warm Atlantic waters.
“In Norway, and also in Canada and other cold areas, we use bubble curtains in winter,” said Hallingsaeter.
The bubble curtain that Hallingsaeter refers to is an artificial surgery that mimics a natural process called swelling. A pipe is installed well below the surface and pushes compressed air upwards.
In cold climates, the warmer water below mixes with the frozen water above and allows the ice to thaw on the surface.
Hallingsaeter said it has been practiced in places with cold climates for 50 years.
After decades of use and practice, Hallingsaeter wondered if the process could be reversed in areas with warm climates. Especially hurricane hotspots. At that point, he started his own hurricane prevention company, OceanTherm.
“Maybe it is time to think about preventive measures, not just reactive measures,” Hallingsaeter said.
Hurricanes get their fuel from warm sea water. Hallingsaeter therefore believes that by bringing deeper, colder water to the surface, he can cut off the energy supply to storms.
“We’re actually seeing a change in attitudes towards hurricane prevention projects this year with the record breaking hurricane season,” said Oliver Hallingsaeter, the company’s chief executive officer.
He believes that this preventive practice is clear if you just look at the numbers.
“Fixed installation from Florida, Miami to Cuba that could only cost $ 500 million just to build and build and then maybe $ 100 million a year to run.” Said Oliver.
These numbers in themselves seem astonishing. However, according to the Congressional Budget Office, hurricane damage in the United States amounts to $ 54 billion each year. Fixed installation is one method, but a mobile version of the bubble curtain can be cheaper and more effective.
“It would take us about 20 ships to go around in formation and cover the areas that are most likely to have a storm,” said Oliver.
“We want to face this development and prevent it from developing at all.”
While the bubble curtain fleet is ahead of the storms, OceanTherm aims to be one step ahead of the 2021 season.
“Definitely make a push towards the US in the coming months,” said Oliver.