Coupled warm pool dynamics in the Indo-Pacific

Dr Ming Feng

Project leader: Dr Ming Feng (CSIRO)

Staff, students and associates

Dr Harry Hendon (BoM)

Dr Je-Yuan (Andy) Hsu (CSIRO affiliate)

Ms Anna Maggiorano (UNSW PhD student)

[Music plays and animation waves appear moving up from the bottom of the screen and text appears above: The Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research]

[Image shows the animation waves moving up the screen and over the text and then the image changes to show Ming Feng talking to the camera and text appears: Ming Feng, CSHOR Project Leader, CSIRO]

Ming Feng: I’m working on a project called Carbon dynamics of the Indo Pacific Warm Pool.

[Image changes to show a group of scientists around a table of charts and in conversation and then the image changes to show Ming Feng talking to the camera]

So, this technology and field experiment carried out by this CSHOR project will better understand how the oceans feeds back to the atmosphere on the intra seasonal time scale which will lead us to better predict the weather and the climate such as El Nino southern oscillation.

[Images move through of Ming Feng walking into the CSHOR building, a group of scientists smiling, Ming Feng talking, a graph showing the Warm Pool and Ming Feng talking to the camera]

After the project we hope that Chinese scientists and Australian scientists will work together to tackle the carbon dynamics of the Warm Pool and understand how the Warm Pool physics will affect the climate in China and Australia and to better forecast our weather systems and climate systems into the future.

[Music plays and the image changes to show animation waves across the bottom of the screen and Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, CSIRO, UNSW and University of Tasmania logos appear]

Dr Ming Feng introduces the Indo-Pacific coupled warm pool dynamics project

Project objectives

The Indo-Pacific warm pool hosts the largest global centre of deep convection, the dominant source of latent heating and moisture for the global atmosphere. The warm pool enables important coupled climate modes, such as ENSO, IOD, and MJO. These climate modes are likely the most important sources of enhanced weather and climate prediction on the globe.

A new understanding is building of how coupling at high frequencies and small spatial scales can be important for climate modes, even the mean climate.  We aim to advance this frontier through new observations and modelling, grounded in the largescale context of the Indonesian Throughflow and its role as a warm pool connector. In addition, better quantification of upper ocean heat balance of the Indian Ocean and associated ocean transport are important in pinpointing the anthropogenic heat uptakes in the global ocean.

The objectives of the project include:

  1. Obtain new insights into air-sea coupling in the east Indian Ocean warm pool region northwest of Australia in conjunction with the Year of Maritime Continent experiment, using fast ocean profiling platforms (resolving the very near surface temperature) to measure SST continuously as well as the key atmospheric variables such as humidity, air temperature, vector winds and radiation parameters. Such measurements in the region will be unprecedented.
  2. Understand coupled model sensitivities in capturing the scale, strength and atmospheric responses to diurnal warming events, and improve our understanding of the impacts of ENSO and MJO on upper ocean thermal and salinity structures in the warm pool.
  3. Quantify the drivers of the decadal variations of the Indian Ocean heat storage and the poleward heat transport in the Indian Ocean using numerical model outputs, and engage in Indian Ocean Observing System review to design observation programs to monitor the key processes.

Latest news

CSHOR Science Seminar Project Presentation (PDF), July 2020

Figure: Hemisphere asymmetry of decadal warming of the global ocean (From Rathore et al., 2020). Left panel: ocean temperature anomalies averaged in the northern hemisphere; right panel: temperature anomalies averaged in the southern hemisphere.

Recent hemispheric asymmetry in global ocean warming induced by climate change and internal variability

April 2020

Knowledge of how anthropogenic heat is redistributed in the world oceans has advanced. A research paper published in Nature Communications, led by PhD student,  Mr Saurabh Rathore, and co-supervised by Dr Ming Feng, quantified the asymmetric pattern of the global ocean warming in the past decade, when the southern hemisphere oceans absorbed more than 90% of the anthropogenic heating of the ocean. Whereas the greenhouse gas effect drove the overall warming trend of the ocean, the asymmetric warming pattern was most likely due to natural climate variability on the decadal time scale (Rathore et al., 2020). The asymmetry was most observed in the upper 700 m, strongly influenced by an asymmetric mode of climate variability, whereas the deep ocean warming (below 700 m) is more uniform, which can be unambiguously attributed to anthropogenic warming.

CSHOR field campaign to support Australian monsoon prediction

in November 2018, a team of scientists from CSIRO and FIO deployed a Meteorology and Ocean Profiling Buoy and an array of fast profiling Argo floats to provide a better understanding of the ocean-atmosphere exchanges during the monsoon onset and their underlying ocean dynamics. Read more about this research and future plans at the CSHOR website post.


Beal, L. M., Vialard, J., Roxy, M. K. and lead authors (Including Feng, M. and Sloyan, B.) 2019: Full Report. IndOOS-2: A roadmap to sustained observations of the Indian Ocean for 2020-2030. CLIVAR-4/2019, GOOS-237, 206 pp.

Beal, L. M., Vialard, J., Roxy, M. K., Li, J., Andres, M., Annamalai, H., . . . Parvathi, V. (Including Feng, M. and Sloyan, B.) (2020). A roadmap to IndOOS-2: Better observations of the rapidly-warming Indian Ocean. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Benthuysen, J. A., Oliver, E. C. J., Feng, M., & Marshall, A. G. (2018). Extreme Marine Warming Across Tropical Australia During Austral Summer 2015–2016. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 123(2), 1301-1326.

Cyriac, A., McPhaden, M. J., Phillips, H. E., Bindoff, N. L., & Feng, M. (2019). Seasonal evolution of the surface layer heat balance in the eastern subtropical Indian Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 124, 6459–6477.

Feng, M., Duan, Y., Wijffels, S., Hsu, J.Y., Li, C., Wang, H., Yang, Y., Shen, H., Liu, J., Ning, C. and Yu, W. (2020). Tracking air-sea exchange and upper ocean variability in the Indonesian-Australian Basin during the onset of the 2018-19 Australian summer monsoon. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Feng, M., Zhang, N., Liu, Q., & Wijffels, S. (2018). The Indonesian throughflow, its variability and centennial change. Geoscience Letters, 5(1), 3.

Hermes, J. C., Y. Masumoto, L. Beal, M. Roxy, J. Vialard, M. Andres, H. Annamalai, S. Behere, N. d’Adamo, T. Doi, M. Feng, W. Han, H. Hendon, R. Hood. S. Kido, C. Lee, T. Lee, M. Lengaigne, R. Lumpkin, K. Navaneeth, B. Milligan, M. McPhaden, M. Ravichandra, T. Shinoda, A. Singh, B. Sloyan, P. Strutto, A. Subramanian, S. Thurston, T. Tozuka, C. Ummenhofer, U. Alakkat, R. Venkatesan, D. Wang, J. Wiggert, L, Yu, W. Yu (2019). A sustained ocean observing system in the Indian Ocean for climate related scientific knowledge and societal need. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6(355).

Hsu, J.Y. Hendon H., Feng M., Zhou, X. (2019). Magnitude and Phase of Diurnal SST Variations in the ACCESS-S1 model during the Suppressed Phase of the MJOs. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 124(12), 9553-9571.

Hu, S. Y. Zhang, M. Feng, Y. Du, J. Sprintall, F. Wang, D. Hu, Q. Xie, F. Chai (2019). Interanual to decadal variability of upper ocean salinity in the southern Indian Ocean and the role of the Indonesian Throughflow. Journal of Climate, 32(19), 6403-6421.

Ma, J., Feng, M., Lan, J. and Hu, D. (2020). Projected future changes of meridional heat transport and heat balance of the Indian Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 47(4), e2019GL086803.

Ma, J., Feng, M. Sloyan, B.M., Lan, J. (2019). Pacific influences on the low-frequency meridional temperature transport of the Indian Ocean. Journal of Climate, 32(4), 1047-1061.

Rathore, S., N. L. Bindoff, H. E. Phillips, M. Feng (2020). Recent hemispheric asymmetry in global ocean warming induced by climate change and internal variability. Nature Communications, 11(1), 1-8.

Sprintall, J., A. Gordon, S. Wijffels, M. Feng, S. Hu, A Koch-Larrouy, H. Phillips, D. Nugroho, A. Napitu, K. Pujiana, R. Susanto, B. Sloyan, D. Yuan, N. Riama, S. Siswanto, A. Kuswardani, Z. Arifin, A. Wahyudi, H. Zhou, T. Nagai, J. Ansong, r. Bourdalle-badie, J. Chanut, F. Lyard, B. Arbic, A. Ramdhani, A. Setiawan (2019). Detecting change in the Indonesian Seas. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6(257).

Sun , Q., Du, Y., Zhang, Y., Feng, M., Chowdary, J.S., Chi, J., Qiu, S. and Yu, W. (2019). Evolution of Sea Surface Salinity Anomalies in the Southwestern Tropical Indian Ocean During 2010–2011 Influenced by a Negative IOD Event. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 124(5), 3428-3445.

Zhang, Y., Du, Y., & Feng, M. (2017). Multiple Time Scale Variability of the Sea Surface Salinity Dipole Mode in the Tropical Indian Ocean. Journal of Climate, 31(1), 283-296.

Zhang, Y., Du, Y., Jayarathna, W.S., Sun, Q., Zhang, Y., Yao, F. and Feng, M. (2020). A Prolonged High-Salinity Event in the Northern Arabian Sea during 2014–17. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 50(4), pp.849-865.

Zhang, Y., Feng, M., Du, Y., Phillips, H. E., Bindoff, N. L., & McPhaden, M. J. (2018). Strengthened Indonesian Throughflow drives decadal warming in the Southern Indian Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 6167-6175.