Coupled warm pool dynamics in the Indo-Pacific

Project leader: Dr Ming Feng (CSIRO)

Staff, students and associates: Dr Chris Chapman (CSIRO); Ms Rebecca Cowley (CSIRO); Dr Harry Hendon (BoM); Dr Je-Yuan (Andy) Hsu (CSIRO affiliate); Ms Anna Maggiorano (UNSW PhD student); Mr Saurabh Rathore (UTAS/IMAS 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

Link to the CSHOR science seminar project presentation, July 2021

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.


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., Feng, M., Han, W., Hood, R., Lee, T., Lengaigne, M., Lumpkin, R., Masumoto, Y., McPhaden, M. J., Ravichandran, M., Shinoda, T., Sloyan, B. M., Strutton, P. G., Subramanian, A. C., Tozuka, T., Ummenhofer, C. C., Unnikrishnan, A. S., Wiggert, J., Yu, L., Cheng, L., Desbruyères, D. G., & Parvathi, V. (2020).   A Road Map to IndOOS-2: Better Observations of the Rapidly Warming Indian Ocean. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 101(11), E1891-E1913.

Black, A. S., Risbey, J. S., Chapman, C. C., Monselesan, D. P., Moore, T. S., II, Pook, M. J., Richardson, D., Sloyan, B. M., Squire, D. T., & Tozer, C. R. (2021). Australian northwest cloudbands and their relationship to atmospheric rivers and precipitation. Monthly Weather Review

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., H. Phillips, N. Bindoff, M. Feng (2022). Characteristics of wind generated near-inertial internal waves in the southeast Indian Ocean. Journal of Physical Oceanography.

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.

Cyriac, A., Phillips, H. E., Bindoff, N. L., Mao, H., & Feng, M. (2021). Observational Estimates of Turbulent Mixing in the Southeast Indian Ocean. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 51(7), 2103-2128.

Du, Yanzhen, Ming Feng, Zhenhua Xu, Baoshu Yin, and Alistair J. Hobday (2022). Summer Marine Heatwaves in the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension Region. Remote Sensing 14(13):2980.

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., Lengainne, M., Sunanda, M., Sen Gupta, A., Vialard, J. (2022). Extreme events and impacts in the Indian Ocean. In The Indian Ocean and its role in the global climate system. Elsevier, Ed. Ummenhofer, C. C. and Hood, R. R. Published online June 2022 here. Print edition 1 November 2022.

Feng, M., Zhang, Y., Hendon, H. H., McPhaden, M. J., & Marshall, A. G. (2021). Niño 4 west (Niño-4W) sea surface temperature variability. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126, e2021JC017591.

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

Hao, Z., Xu, Z., Feng, M., Li, Q. and Yin, B. (2021). Spatiotemporal Variability of Mesoscale Eddies in the Indonesian Seas. Remote Sensing, 13(5), p.1017.

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., Feng, M. and Wijffels, S. (2022). Rapid restratification of the ocean surface boundary layer during the suppressed phase of the MJO in austral spring. Environmental Research Letters, 17(2), p.024031.

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., Li, S., Zhang, Y., Guan, C., Du, Y., Feng, M., Ando, K., Wang, F., Schiller, A. and Hu, D. (2021). Observed strong subsurface marine heatwaves in the tropical western Pacific Ocean. Environmental Research Letters, 16(10), p.104024.

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.

Huang, Z., and Feng, M. (2021). MJO induced diurnal sea surface temperature variations off the Northwest Shelf of Australia observed from Himawari geostationary satellite. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 183, 104925,

Huang, Z., Feng, M., Beggs, H., Wijffels, S., Cahill, M. and Griffin, C. (2021). High-resolution marine heatwave mapping in Australasian waters using Himawari-8 SST and SSTAARS data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 267, 112742.

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.

Maggiorano, A., Feng, M., Wang, X., Stark, C., Colberg, F., Greenwood, J. (2021). Hydrodynamic drivers of the 2013 marine heatwave on the North West Shelf of Australia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126(3), e2020JC016495,

Marin, M., Bindoff, N. L., Feng, M., & Phillips, H. E. (2021). Slower long-term coastal warming drives dampened trends in coastal marine heatwave exposure. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126, e2021JC017930.

Marin, M., Feng, M., Phillips, H. E., & Bindoff, N. L. (2021). A global, multiproduct analysis of coastal marine heatwaves: Distribution, characteristics and long‐term trends. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126, e2020JC016708.

Phillips, H. E., Tandon, A., Furue, R., Hood, R., Ummenhofer, C., Benthuysen, J., Menezes, V., Hu, S., Webber, B., Sanchez-Franks, A., Cherian, D., Shroyer, E., Feng, M., Wijeskera, H., Chatterjee, A., Yu, L., Hermes, J., Murtugudde, R., Tozuka, T., Su, D., Singh, A., Centurioni, L., Prakash, S., and Wiggert, J.: Progress in understanding of Indian Ocean circulation, variability, air-sea exchange and impacts on biogeochemistry, Ocean Science Discussions [preprint],, in review, 2021.

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.

Rathore, S., Bindoff, N.L., Ummenhofer, C.C., Phillips, H.E. and Feng, M. (2020). Near-Surface Salinity Reveals the Oceanic Sources of Moisture for Australian Precipitation through Atmospheric Moisture Transport. Journal of Climate33(15), pp. 6707-6730.

Rathore, S., Bindoff, N. L., Ummenhofer, C. C., Phillips, H. E., Feng, M., & Mishra, M. (2021). Improving Australian Rainfall Prediction Using Sea Surface Salinity, Journal of Climate, 34(7), 2473-2490,

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.

Tozuka, T., Feng, M., Han, W., Kido, S. and Zhang, L (2021). The Ningaloo Niño/Niña: Mechanisms, relation with other climate modes and impacts. In Tropical and Extratropical Air-Sea Interactions, pp.207-219. Elsevier, Ed. S. K. Behera.

Wang, S., Feng, M., Dong, C., & Zhu, W. (2021). Observations of SST-induced wind perturbations in the Leeuwin Current. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126, e2020JC016993.

Gang Yang, Xiao Hua Wang, Zhixin Cheng, Yi Zhong, Thomas Oliver (2021). Modelling study on estuarine circulation and its effect on turbidity maximum zone in the Yalu River Estuary, China. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 263, 107634.

Yang, G., Xiao Hua Wang, Yi Zhong, Zhixin Cheng and Fernando P. Andutta (2020). Wave effects on sediment dynamics in a macro-tidal estuary: Darwin Harbour, Australia during the monsoon season. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 244.

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., Feng, M., & Hu, S. (2021). Long-lasting marine heatwaves instigated by ocean planetary waves in the tropical Indian Ocean during 2015–2016 and 2019–2020. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL095350.

Zhang, Y., Du, Y., Qu, T., Hong, Y., Domingues, C. M., & Feng, M. (2021). Changes in the Subantarctic Mode Water Properties and Spiciness in the Southern Indian Ocean based on Argo Observations. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 51(7), 2203-2221, 

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.