Atmosphere-Ocean Interaction and Climate Variability in the South China Sea Region

Principal Investigator: Prof. Wu Renguang

Start Date: 2011/06/01
End Date: 2012/11/30
Type of Grant: Direct Grant

As part of the large warm pool extending from the eastern Indian Ocean to the western Pacific, the South China Sea (SCS) displays prominent atmosphere-ocean interaction as that in the western North Pacific and tropical Indian Ocean. This interaction may play an important role in the regional climate variability. Climate model is an important tool for understanding the climate variability and predictability as well as the climate change. The applicability of this tool depends on the performance of the model in various aspects, including the atmosphere-ocean relationship in different regions. It is important to evaluate how the climate models perform in the SCS region, which will give important guidance for limitations and uncertainties that need to be considered when using climate model to monitor and project climate in the surrounding regions. The SCS climate variability is likely linked to that in the densely populated neighboring regions and to the East Asian winter (EAWM) and summer monsoon (EASM) variability. Anomalous EAWM can induce SST cooling in the SCS. As the SCS SST is modified, it may induce anomalous heating and change the thermal contrast with the land region, which may contribute to climate variability in a large region.

The objective of this study is to enhance the understanding of the atmosphere-ocean interactions in the South China Sea region and the connection of South China Sea climate with the East Asian monsoon variability. Key issues being addressed are: 1) How do the atmosphere and ocean interact in the SCS region? 2) How is the performance of climate models in simulating the atmosphere-ocean relationship in the SCS region? 3) What is the relationship of the SCS climate variability with the EAWM and EASM variability?

Possible outcomes of this research are: 1) The regionality and seasonality of nature of air-sea interaction in the South China Sea region will be revealed; 2) The strength and weakness of climate models in simulating the air-sea relationship in the South China Sea region will be identified; 3) The connection of the South China Sea climate to the East Asian monsoon will be revealed.