Picture: Chuuk Lagoon, Weno, Federated States of Micronesia. Credit: Marek Okon.

by Andrea Taschetto

The “WCRP-CLIVAR Workshop on Climate Interactions among the Tropical Basins” was held online on February 24-26, 2021. It was the first workshop organised by the CLIVAR Tropical Basin Interaction group, with logistic assistance from the US CLIVAR Project Office and UCAR, as well as financial support from NOAA and NSF. The three-day workshop took place over two time slots to accommodate different time zones for more than 200 participants from 30 countries.

The Tropical Basin Interaction (TBI) Research Focus is a current program of CLIVAR, co-chaired by Ingo Richter from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and, until recently, by Noel Keenlyside from the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Norway. He has been replaced by Yuko Okumura from the University of Texas at Austin, USA. I am a proud Australian member of this CLIVAR Research Focus, which includes 15 members from nine different countries, and was part of the organising committee for this workshop.

The CLIVAR TBI group aims to establish a consensus on the current understanding of the processes underlying ocean basin interactions to promote further science discoveries in this area that can translate into improved climate predictability on seasonal to multidecadal timescales and climate change projections. Through workshops like that one, the group brings together experts from a range of areas needed to understand what is known and unknown in the field and provides recommendations on research priorities going forward to cover the existing gaps in inter-basin interactions science.

The first two days of the workshop consisted of four excellent plenary talks, including by CLEX CIs Dietmar Dommenget and Nerilie Abram; two poster sessions; and, a 90-minute discussion each day. Other CLEX AIs, ECRs, and PhD students who participated in the TBI workshop were Agus Santoso, Shayne McGregor, Chen Li, Giovanni Liguori, Shreya Dhame, Bryam Orihuela Pinto, Dhruv Bhagtani, and Dongxia Yang.

The plenary talks were recorded and are available online, and the posters are accessible for one year. On the third day of the workshop, invited participants were divided into four working groups where fruitful discussions emerged on TBI GCM experiments, theoretical approaches and intermediate complexity models, observations, and paleo data.

I chaired a 90-minute discussion group on climate change and participated in the model experiments and paleo data working groups. I must say that I enjoyed the discussion groups; it generated debate on what the scientific community knows about projected changes in the tropical Pacific mean state and variability, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans’ role in driving Pacific changes in a warming climate, among other issues. We ended up with more questions posed than answered, which is expected for a first workshop of this type.

This first TBI workshop helps consolidate our current understanding and uncertainties of tropical basin interactions that will help propose new coordinated climate model experiments to address the open questions in this field. The Research Focus is preparing a report about the TBI workshop for CLIVAR Exchanges, so you will hear from the group again. The group intends to continue arranging workshops, conference sessions, and summer schools, so there will be opportunities to contribute to the TBI group in the future.