Asking the right question is more important than getting the right answer
Hu Yang received the diploma and master degrees in Physical Oceanography at the Ocean University of China. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in Environmental Physics, at the University of Bremen. From 2017-2022, he worked as a Postdoc and Research Scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany. Since 2023, he leads the paleoclimate and sea level change group in Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai). Yang’s research focus on the large-scale ocean-atmosphere interactions and long-term sea level change. His study on western boundary currents, drifting ocean gyres and tropical expansion has received broad attention and recognition not only in the scientific community but also in the general public.
My research interest covers broad fields, including climate dynamics, paleo-climate change, sea-level change. Among these, I am particularly interested in the topics of long-term sea level change and the displacement of oceanic and atmospheric circulation across different time scales. I always like to perform my study by combining observations with numerical model simulations, and use simple approach to explore the complex earth system.
Ocean circulation plays a vital role in regulating the weather and climate and supporting marine life. Using two independent satellite observations and climate model simulations, we report that the world's major ocean gyres are moving towards higher latitudes under climate change. --Yang et al. (2020a)
Observations and climate simulations reveal that the Earth's tropical belt is expanding. The mechanism underlying such phenomenon has been debated for more than a decade. In Yang et al. (2020b), we firstly proposed that the expanding tropics is driven by poleward advancing of mid-latitude meridional temperature gradients. The temperature gradient displacement is induced by a relatively fast subtropical ocean warming, which constrained by the mean upper ocean flow.
Both oceanic and atmospheric circulation are displacing towards higher latitudes, causing a poleward migration of the Earth's climate zones. In Yang et al (2022a), we proposed that it is the warming ocean that initially pushes the meridional temperature gradients and the atmospheric circulation towards higher latitudes. The shift in atmospheric circulation, in turn, drives a poleward drift of the oceanic circulation.
Greenland Ice Sheet play a key role in the future sea level rise. In Yang et al. (2022b), we simulate the evolution of the Greenland ice sheet from the last interglacial into near future. Based on our simulations and geological reconstructions, we highlight that the Greenland's ice volume delays climate change by thousands of years. Due to this delay, catastrophic sea level rise will not happen within our generations no matter how much the Earth's climate warms. However, sea level rise from melting could be irreversible and last for several millennia.
Equator to pole heat imbalance drives the atmospheric circulation. We report that due to different response time of oceanic warming, man-made global warming results in a strengthening mid-latitude meridional heat imbalance. --Yang et al. (2019)
Oceanic surface heat flux is the key language for ocean-atmosphere coupling. We identify the most prominent oceanic heat flux trends around the global. This study initially led the finding of systematic drifting of the western boundary currents under warming climate. --Yang et al. (2016a)
Greenland Ice Sheet
A simulation conducted using PSIM forced by AWI-ESM
Greenland's Ice volume delayed climate change (Yang et al. 2022b).
Past Sea Level Change
A simulation conducted using PISM and VILMA
Past evolution of sea level tell us that sea level is always changing, there is no reason that it stays at the current position forever.
Selected news reports for Hu's research