2008 Advanced Institute on the Asian Monsoon

More than 3 billion people in Asia rely on monsoon precipitation for water, and changes in this precipitation influence agriculture, economic activity, and public health. Given trends of population growth, rapid industrialization, and urbanization, it is important for scientists in the Asia- Pacific region to both stay abreast of advances in monsoon science and develop collaborations to understand and predict the variability of monsoons.

START is responding to this need by creating learning opportunities for regional scientists with an Advanced Institute on the Asian Monsoon: Prediction of Change and Variability. In January 2008, twenty early-career meteorologists from across the Asia-Pacific region and North America met to attend a series of lectures on the Asian monsoon and to explore possibilities for collaboration. The participants were selected from more than 70 applicants from universities, government labs, and meteorological forecast centers in more than 10 countries. Invited faculty from China, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States gave the lectures, with the largest group of lecturers coming from the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) of the University of Hawaii. The meeting was held at the East-West Center, adjacent to the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Lecture topics included the fundamental physics of monsoons, the variability and predictability of the Asian-Australian monsoon system, advances in satellite observations, and numerical modeling of monsoons.

Monsoon variability on intraseasonal, interannual, and decadal timescales was discussed, with focus given to the roles played by land surface hydrology and ocean coupling, including Indian Ocean dynamics and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Various modeling studies were reviewed, especially projections from the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the Asia-Pacific region. Participants were introduced to multimodel ensemble seasonal forecasts produced by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Climate Center and to climate data available from the Asia-Pacific Data Research Center at the IPRC.

One major goal of the institute was to foster international collaboration on both fundamental research and the operational prediction of monsoon variability. To this end, participants presented summaries of their own work, received constructive comments, and identified needs for collaboration or research support. By the end of the program, participants had gathered into four smaller groups focusing on the topics of intraseasonal variability, interannual variability, decadal variability, and the prediction and predictability of the Asian monsoon. Some of these focus groups intended to maintain contact for a few years, and one group even presented an idea for a collaborative study on interannual variations of monsoon onset in Southeast Asia. An e-mail list server was established for continued interaction among all participants.

The institute was directed by Bin Wang of the IPRC and the Department of Meteorology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii. START organized the Institute, sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN), with additional support provided by IPRC, START, and the East- West Center.

Adapted from the AGU EOS article by William Boos, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

For more information, contact Skip Kauffman, cskauffman@start.org

Last Updated on March 14th, 2012