Xiaolin Zhang

University of Hamburg
Job Title: 
Research Scientist

Dr Xiaolin Zhang holds a PhD from Florida State University, studying the role of current on the El Nino and Southern Oscillation Prediction by combining theory and data analysis. She then moved to University of Colorado, Boulder to finish her postdoc, exploring the Indian Ocean upwelling by using numerical modeling and data analysis. 

Her previous research was mainly focused on ocean dynamics by using theory, observation and modeling. More specifically, her Ph.D thesis at Florida State University studies (1) why the zonal current in the eastern Pacific ocean leads sea level by 2-3 months as well as the ENSO predictors and (2) why the warm water volume can be used as an ENSO predictor by using a linear pure dynamical model. We also explored how the ocean responses to the fresh water flux at interannual timescale in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean by using theory and in situ data. An article relevant to her thesis has received the best student poster award at the 2016 CLIVER Open Science meeting. At University of Colorado, Boulder, her postdoc work is about understanding the influence of climate modes on the Indian Ocean upwelling at interannual timescale. On the basis of her phd and postdoc work, in the future, Xiaolin plans to keep working on the (1) air-sea interactions (2) paleoceanography (3) interannual variability (4) global water cycle and barrier layer (5) the interaction between subtropics and tropics (6) the interaction between Indian ocean and Pacific ocean by combining theory, numerical modeling and observational analysis.

Her current project is trying to understand the tropical Pacific mean state, annual cycle and ENSO in Holocene period by using the CMIP6 model and Linear Atmosphere-Ocean Model and the Causes of Decadal to Centennial Regional Sea Level Variations.

In the recent published article, “On the Physics of the Warm Water Volume and El Niño /La Niña Predictability” co-written by Allan J. Clarke and Xiaolin Zhang, they explained the mechanisms related to the asymmetry of big El Nino and La Nina events. Many theories have been advanced to explain the generation mechanism of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the equatorial Pacific. The Bjerknes mechanism relies on an ocean-atmosphere instability involving the anomalous Pacific equatorial zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradient. Others have suggested that the zonal equatorial movement of the equatorial Pacific warm/fresh pool and associated air-sea interaction are key to ENSO generation. Recently El Niño flavors related to central Pacific and eastern Pacific SST anomalies have been the subject of much community discussion. Theories of El Niño generation and its demise should explain why major El Niño indices are phase-locked to the seasonal cycle, why there is a persistence barrier to ENSO prediction, and why certain quantities like the equatorial warm water volume can foreshadow El Niño. In their work it is shown using simple physical arguments that the movement of the warm pool right at the equator is crucial to understanding El Niño dynamics and our ability to predict El Niño/La Niña. 

She is also active on: Research Gate https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Xiaolin_Zhang10

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8810-8993