Dr Wenju Cai ‘Warming in the Tasman Sea, a global warming hotspot’

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Thursday, 7 June 2012 - 12:30pm

A CSIRO Office of Chief Executive Science Leader, Dr Wenju Cai specialises in global climate variability, change, and impact. He publishes extensively on identification of modes of climate variability, their mechanisms, and climate detection and attribution. He is Chair of the WCRP/CLIVAR International Pacific Panel (CLIVAR is the World Climate Research Programme project that addresses Climate Variability and Predictability, with a particular focus on the role of ocean-atmosphere interactions in climate.) Dr Cai is also a climate science leader in CSIRO’s contribution to the $50m Queensland Government-CSIRO research alliance and the $50m Goyder Research Institute. He leads CSIRO’s climate characterization and prediction research within the Wealth from Oceans flagship.

Oceanographers have identified a series of ocean hotspots around the world generated by strengthening wind systems that have driven oceanic currents, including the East Australian Current, polewards beyond their known boundaries. Motivated by a previous finding of an accelerated warming in the Tasman Sea, the new research looks at changes along other oceanic currents, and finds a synchronised enhanced warming signal, strengthening the argument for a role of greenhouse warming in driving these oceanic hot spots. Other supporting evidence includes a poleward shift of weather systems and expansion of the tropics that affect our rainfall.