A major challenge confronting the climate research community is that despite the dramatic acceleration in global ocean warming, it remains unclear how this heat uptake is distributed by basin and across water masses, and the associated physics of the processes regulating formation of, and heat uptake in, distinct water masses. Two particular water masses of note in this challenge are mode and intermediate waters in the subtropical and Southern Ocean, given their key role in the uptake and redistribution of heat over the past 50 years.
While my PhD research work investigated the physical mechanisms driving the geographic and seasonal variability in the formation of Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) and Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) in the Southern Ocean (Li et al. 2021; Li et al. 2022), as well as how much heat uptake is stored within the mode and intermediate waters over the subtropical and Southern Ocean (Li et al. 2022, under review), there is still much to learn about the physical processes controlling the uptake and redistribution of heat and carbon by SAMW, AAIW, and other mode and intermediate waters. It is my hope that by better understanding the processes controlling variability and heat uptake of SAMW, AAIW and other mode and intermediate waters, we can better understand the physical mechanisms that are driving the Southern Ocean and global ocean warming, and predict how ocean warming and sea-level change will play out in the future.
I am a physical oceanographer based at the Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC), UNSW Sydney. I completed my PhD from UNSW Sydney in 2022 (August 2018 - August 2022). Following this, I started working as a postdoctoral researcher at CCRC, UNSW Sydney, as part of the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS) program, to continue the research work that was launched by my PhD projects.
My current activities within UNSW are to investigate Southern Ocean ventilation and water-mass formation, as well as the heat uptake and redistribution by Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) and Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) in driving Southern Ocean warming and global ocean heat uptake. I have been looking at the formation and variability of SAMW and AAIW in the Southern Ocean, by reconciling their volume changes with formation mechanisms of subduction and water-mass transformation. I am currently working at investigating the ocean heat uptake and redistribution by the formation of SAMW and AAIW, for understanding Southern Ocean warming, and more broadly, global ocean warming.