UH Manoa scientist advances research on Pacific climate

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Jan 8, 2007

HONOLULU — The American Geophysical Union (AGU), which publishes 16 peer-reviewed scientific journals about the earth, atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences, selected for its January 2007 Journal Highlights a paper by Tangdong Qu, associate researcher at the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC), the climate research center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Qu and his co-authors, Yan Du, postdoctoral fellow at the IPRC, and Hideharu Sasaki, research scientist at the Earth Simulator Center, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Japan, showed that a current flowing from the Pacific through the South China Sea into the Indonesian Seas impacts the heat and freshwater distributions in the Indonesian Maritime Continent. The temperature and salinity of the current changes over its course—cold, salty water flows into the South China Sea through Luzon Strait, and warm, fresh water flows out through other straits along the South China Sea and is distributed to other bodies of water within the Indonesian Maritime Continent.

Since this is the region that is closely associated with El Niño and the Indian Ocean Dipole, year-to-year fluctuations in the current could well affect climate patterns across the Indo-Pacific basin.

On the basis of their research, the authors hypothesize that the South China Sea acts as a heat capacitor, storing heat in certain years and releasing it in others. Results from a high-resolution general circulation model, the Ocean GCM for the Earth Simulator, or OFES, run on the JAMSTEC Earth Simulator, Japan‘s supercomputer, support the finding and the possibility that the South China Sea plays a key role in regulating SST patterns in the region.

The editors of the AGU Journals select particularly outstanding articles to be featured on the AGU Media Services website as "Journal Highlights." Roughly 15 articles of the several hundred published each month by AGU are selected as such highlights. Each AGU highlight is a one-paragraph summary of a journal paper and includes the paper's citation and contact information for all authors.

The Journal Highlight is at www.agu.or/sci_soc/prrl/jh20070102.html#five .

The publication citation is:
Qu, T., Y. Du, and H. Sasaki (2006), South China Sea throughflow: A heat and freshwater conveyor, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L23617, doi:10.1029/2006GL028350. ( www.agu.org/journals/gl/gl0623/2006GL028350 )

The International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is a climate research center founded to gain greater understanding of the climate system and the nature and causes of climate variation in the Asian-Pacific region, and to develop information on how global climate changes may affect the region. Established under the "U.S.-Japan Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspective" in October 1997, the IPRC is a collaborative effort between Japan and the United States.