ASHBURNHAM (CBS) – Olav Hallingsaeter, a former Norwegian submarine officer turned hurricane hunter, is bringing Norwegian winter technology to warm Atlantic waters.
“In Norway and also in Canada and other cold areas, we are using the bubble curtains in the winter,” said Hallingsaeter.
The bubble curtain Hallingsaeter is referring to is an artificial operation that works to mimic a natural process called upwelling. A pipe is installed well below the surface and forces compressed air upwards.
In cold climates, the warmer water below will mix with the sub-freezing water above it, allowing ice at the surface to thaw.
Hallingsaeter said that practice has been going on in cold climate locations for 50 years.
After decades of use and practice, Hallingsaeter wondered if the process could be reversed in warm climate areas. Specifically, hurricane hot spots. That’s when he started his own hurricane prevention company, OceanTherm.
“Maybe it’s time to start thinking about preventive measures not just reactive measures,” said Hallingsaeter.
Hurricanes get their fuel from warm ocean waters. Therefore, Hallingsaeter believes that by bringing deeper, colder water to the surface, he can cut off the storms’ energy supply.
“We actually see a shift in the attitude towards hurricane prevention projects this year with the record breaking hurricane season,” said Oliver Hallingsaeter, the company’s business director.
He believes this preventative practice is clear by simply looking at the numbers.
“Fixed installation from Florida, Miami to Cuba, that could cost maybe $500 million to just build and set out and then maybe $100 million a year to operate.” Oliver said.
These numbers by themselves seem staggering. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, hurricane damages in the United States reaches $54 billion each year. The fixed installation is one method, but a mobile version of the bubble curtain may be cheaper and more effective.
“We would need approximately 20 ships to go around in formation to cover the areas that have the highest possibility of intensifying an incoming storm,” said Oliver.
“We want to be in front of this development and kind of prevent it from even forming in the first place.”
As the bubble curtain fleet gets ahead of the storms, OceanTherm is looking to get ahead of the 2021 season.
“Definitely make a push towards the U.S. in the coming months,” said Oliver.