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WHOI Physical Oceanographer publishes peer-reviewed book about the Indian Ocean

Book Cover The Indian Ocean and Its Role in the Global Climate System takes a deep dive into warming trends and extreme weather events (Book cover design by Natalie Renier, ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

April 26, 2024

The Indian Ocean and Its Role in the Global Climate System takes a deep dive into warming trends and extreme weather events


Woods Hole, Mass. – 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, and 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.


Caroline Ummenhofer, climate modeler at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Photo by Thomas Kleindinst, ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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

“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, the book's co-editor and biological oceanographer at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “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.”

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.

About Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate an understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. WHOI’s pioneering discoveries stem from an ideal combination of science and engineering—one that has made it one of the most trusted and technically advanced leaders in basic and applied ocean research and exploration anywhere. WHOI is known for its multidisciplinary approach, superior ship operations, and unparalleled deep-sea robotics capabilities. We play a leading role in ocean observation and operate the most extensive suite of data-gathering platforms in the world. Top scientists, engineers, and students collaborate on more than 800 concurrent projects worldwide—both above and below the waves—pushing the boundaries of knowledge and possibility. For more information, please visit

About the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science:

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, our scientists provide sound advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. UMCES has a unique statutory mandate to conduct a comprehensive scientific program and apply predictive ecology for the improvement and preservation of Maryland's physical environment. This mission is accomplished through research, education, and public service.