I was wondering if we could possibly reduce the severity of, or steer a hurricane by changing albedo (e.g. dying the part ocean with a temporary light colored dye)? My thought would be to put this dye well in front of the path of a hurricane, with enough time to reflect the sunlight back off the ocean and cool the ocean surface. When the hurricane arrives there, the ocean surface should then be cooler, leading to the hurricane being less powerful. I am also wondering if this could be used to steer the hurricane somehow (e.g. if a hurricane would be drawn to or repelled away from cool ocean surface). If so, could we use that to steer a hurricane away from populated areas?

Some potential methods (there may be others):

  • Use light colored dye injected into the ocean

  • Use light colored smoke to block the sun from reaching the ocean

  • Possibly use "cloud seeding" ahead of the hurricane and form clouds to block the sun light from warming the ocean. - Covered in the alternate question

  • Perhaps a "surface film" could also be applied temporarily to part of the ocean (sort of like a "light colored oil spill", hopefully with something safer for the environment than oil). - Covered in the alternate question

If this experiment were to be conducted, I would think it should be done far from inhabited land. Environmental impacts would need to be thought out too, e.g. would a film block the carbon dioxide / oxygen exchange in that area and cause severe environmental impact? Could the experiment actually strengthen instead of weaken a hurricane?


The linked question and answer addresses some, but not all the methods I propose here. It also proposes some other methods, definitely an interesting read!

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome at EarthScience.SE! This is quite an interesting question. Similar ideas were developed to tackle climate change -- increasing albedo (increasing light reflectance) above the ocean. Therefore, maybe a similar question with respect to climate change has already been answered here. However, I could not find one. $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2017 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How much energy is needed to alter the path of a hurricane? $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2017 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ Some of the methods are indeed discussed there, but not all of them. I would call it a "partial duplicate". That question involves redirecting it, which mine also does. Mine also considers weakening it though. Thanks for making me aware of it, definitely an interesting question that I did not find when I searched. $\endgroup$
    – Jonathan
    Sep 13, 2017 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


Water has a large thermal capacity.

which is why the temperature change between seasons is gradual rather than sudden, especially near the oceans.

For water to lose heat time is required. By changing the albedo of the ocean just prior to a hurricane/cyclone/typhoon passing over a section of water will not give the water enough time to cool down to have any significant effect.

If it were possible to change the temperature of water to minimize the strength of hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones, large sections of ocean would need to have their albedos changed for a long period of time.


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