Roger Revelle Chair in Environmental Science

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Research Interests

My research centers on ocean-atmosphere interactions and their role in climate formation, variability, and change. The ocean's importance for climate is evident from the facts that most of solar radiation absorption occurs at the Earth surface and that the ocean occupies seventy percent of the Earth surface. Examples of ocean-atmosphere interaction effects are abundant, including the spontaneous generation of El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the northward-displaced tropical rain band called the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in the eastern Pacific and Atlantic. My research contributes to answering such fundamental questions as what determines the spatial distributions of climate, why it varies in time, how preferred patterns of climate variability form, and how predictable climate is.

I carry out both diagnostic and modeling studies, using observations and numerical models of the ocean, atmosphere, and their coupled system. Geographically, my work covers all three major oceans of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian, and monsoons of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Our research has led to the formulation of wind-evaporation-sea surface temperature (WES) feedback mechanism and the Indian Ocean capacitor effect, the "warmer-get-wetter" idea for rainfall change in global warming, and the discovery of what Science magazine called the longest island wake of the world. The WES feedback is important for the northward displacement of the ITCZ and the tropical meridional mode. For more information, please see a narrative overview.

Research highlights: Atmospheric circulation is key for regional climate forecasts, Solving the Mysteries of Hiatus in Global Warming, and more


D.Sc., Tohoku University, Japan, 1991 
M.Sc., Tohoku University, Japan, 1988 
Dalian College of Foreign Languages, China, 1984-85 
B.Sc., Shandong College of Oceanography, China, 1984


China Ministry of Education Oversea Scholarship, 1985-1986

Japan Ministry of Education (Monbusho) Scholarship, 1986-1991

The Yamamoto-Shyono Medal for the 1994 Tellus paper on coupled ocean-atmospheric modeling of the Pacific ITCZ, Meteorological Society of Japan, 1996

The Society Medal for contributions to understanding air-sea interaction and its role in climate formation and variability, Meteorological Society of Japan, 2002

National Science Foundation Special Creativity Award, 2013

Highly cited researcher (among ~140 world wide in geoscience), 2014, 2016, Thomson Reuters; 2017, Clarivate Analytics

Elected fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2016

Distinguished Lecture (Atmospheric Sciences), Asia Oceania Geosciences Society, 2017

Sverdrup Gold Medal, and fellow, American Meteorological Society, 2017