How will the changing Indian Ocean influence the South Asian monsoon over the coming century?


How will the changing Indian Ocean influence the South Asian monsoon over the coming century?


Project Description


Dr Ben Webber (UEA Environmental Sciences)

Prof David Stevens (UEA)

Prof Manoj Joshi (UEA)

Dr Andrew Turner (University of Reading)



Climate change is expected to profoundly affect the South Asian (Indian) monsoon, with substantial impacts on the livelihoods of over a billion people. Predicted effects include increasing rainfall, despite weakening of the associated monsoon winds. A key part of understanding these effects is analysing projections of changing surface ocean conditions, which in turn strongly influence monsoon rainfall and its variability. However, relatively little research has been conducted into how changing ocean currents, and the vertical structure of the upper ocean, might influence the South Asian monsoon.

You will investigate these fundamental questions using state-of-the-art computer climate models.


You will analyse recently released climate model output from CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6), and HighResMIP (High-Resolution Model Intercomparison Project). CMIP6 will provide state-of-the-art climate projections to the forthcoming IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. You will compare the representation of key interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, such as evaporation and wind-driven mixing, over the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal with real-world observations to better understand key processes and feedbacks. You will investigate how future changes in ocean conditions – particularly in the northern Indian Ocean – will influence the South Asian monsoon under a range of future climate scenarios.


You will join an active research group in meteorology, oceanography and climate. Training will be given in climate dynamics, numerical modelling and analysis of model output. You will learn how to assess models against observations and how to quantify uncertainty in future climate projections. You will be guided through preparing your results for publication in high quality journals and you will have the opportunity to present your research at national and international conferences. Training will also include summer schools, such as in climate modelling, and a diverse range of workshops. You will also have the opportunity to undertake bespoke fieldwork training on relevant research projects.

Person specification

We seek an enthusiastic, proactive student who interested in climate change and feedbacks with the ocean, with a numerate, physical science degree, e.g. physics, meteorology, oceanography, applied mathematics, natural sciences, geophysics or environmental sciences.  Experience of computer languages (e.g. Python, Matlab) is advantageous.


  • Vinayachandran PN, et al., (2018). BoBBLE (Bay of Bengal Boundary Layer Experiment): Ocean–atmosphere interaction and its impact on the South Asian monsoon. Bull. Am. Meteor. Soc. Published online. doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0230.1
  • Turner AG and Annamalai H (2012). Climate Change and the South Asian summer monsoon. Nat. Clim. Change. 2, 587–595. doi: 10.1038/nclimate1495
  • Webber BGM, Matthews AJ, Vinayachandran PN, Neema CP, Sanchez-Franks A, Vijith V, Amol P, Baranowski DB (2018). The dynamics of the Southwest Monsoon current in 2016 from high-resolution in-situ observations. J. Phys. Oceanogr. Published online. doi: 10.1175/JPO-D-17-0215.1
  • Turner AG, Joshi M, Robertson ES, Woolnough SJ (2012) The effect of Arabian Sea optical properties on SST biases and the South Asian summer monsoon in a coupled GCM. Climate Dynamics. 39, 811-826. doi: 10.1007/s00382-011-1254-3
  • Shaffrey, L.C., D. Hodson, J. Robson, D.P. Stevens, E. Hawkins, I. Polo, I. Stevens, R.T. Sutton, G. Lister, A. Iwi, D. Smith and A. Stephens (2017): Decadal Predictions with the HiGEM High Resolution Global Coupled Climate Model: Description and Basic Evaluation, Climate Dynamics, 48, 297-311, doi:10.1007/s00382-016-3075-x.

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