Paper Published in Top Journal

Findings of response of the Indian Ocean Dipole to the greenhouse warming made by Prof. Cai Wenju and Dr. Zheng Xiaotong, as well as other six researchers were published in Nature Geoscience, one of the world’s top scientific journals, in its online issue on Nov.28, 2013.

Prof. Cai Wenju, the first author of the research paper, is a distinguished guest professor of Cooperation and Innovation Center for Marine Science and Technology of Qingdao, and also a Green Card distinguished professor of the Key Lab of Physical Oceanography under the Ministry of Education, where Dr.Zheng Xiaotong, the second author, works as a member of the research team.

In this paper submitted by a research team consisting of scientists from Ocean University of China and other international educationa and research institutions, the authors believe that natural modes of variability centred in the tropics, such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole, are a significant source of interannual climate variability across the globe. Future climate warming could alter these modes of variability. For example, with the warming projected for the end of the twenty-first century, the mean climate of the tropical Indian Ocean is expected to change considerably. These changes have the potential to affect the Indian Ocean Dipole, currently characterized by an alternation of anomalous cooling in the eastern tropical Indian Ocean and warming in the west in a positive dipole event, and the reverse pattern for negative events. The amplitude of positive events is generally greater than that of negative events.


The paper states that mean climate warming in austral spring is expected to lead to stronger easterly winds just south of the Equator, faster warming of sea surface temperatures in the western Indian Ocean compared with the eastern basin, and a shoaling equatorial thermocline. The mean climate conditions that result from these changes more closely resemble a positive dipole state. However, defined relative to the mean state at any given time, the overall frequency of events is not projected to change — but we expect a reduction in the difference in amplitude between positive and negative dipole events.