New book takes deep dive into warming trends and extreme events in the Indian Ocean

April 26, 2024
Book cover of "The Indian Ocean and Its Role in the Global Climate System." Credit: Elsevier.

The Indian Ocean represents one of the great frontiers in climate science and oceanography. Bordered by nearly 40 countries, and home to a third of the global population, changes to climate in this area of the world could have major societal and economic impacts. Currently, the Indian Ocean and its surrounding countries stand out globally as the region with the highest risk of natural hazards, with coastal communities vulnerable to weather and climate extremes. However, given its unique characteristics and the fact it has historically been understudied, we have limited knowledge about its inner workings.

In a new book published by Elsevier, The Indian Ocean and Its Role in the Global Climate System, an interdisciplinary team of experts take a deeper dive into recent warming trends and extreme events, such as marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and deoxygenation. The book contains 20 peer-reviewed chapters, more than 175 figures, 3,000 references, 100 educational resources and links directing readers to more in-depth information, and 100 glossary entries of key concepts.

"The advent of new technologies, an expanded observation system, and rapid advances in environmental predictions and forecasting capabilities in recent decades open new and exciting opportunities for improved environmental and climate risk management," said Raleigh Hood, a biological oceanographer at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the book’s co-editor. "In a region particularly vulnerable to changing conditions, it’s important to be collaborating and compiling this information. This book contains everything from the history of the region to all parts of the climate system including geology, hydrology, biogeochemistry, atmosphere, and oceanography."

The Indian Ocean is particularly susceptible to human-induced climate change. Robust warming trends and pronounced changes in heat and freshwater are being observed there, more now than ever.

"The Indian Ocean is unusual among tropical ocean basins. It has seasonal reversal of monsoon winds and ocean currents in turn," said Caroline Ummenhofer, a physical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and one of the book’s editors. "It’s also landlocked to the north, limiting the ability for tropical heat to escape to higher latitudes."

Contributions by more than 90 authors from around the world with expertise across a wide range of fields underpin the content of this textbook. Furthermore, all chapters were peer-reviewed by at least two experts in the field. The textbook identifies new understandings and technologies, providing stakeholders with relevant knowledge for more informed decision-making, encouraging students, practitioners, and researchers to overcome some of these pressing knowledge gaps.

The Indian Ocean and Its Role in the Global Climate System is available now, published by Elsevier.