Campus Map

Jinlun Zhang

Senior Principal Oceanographer






Dr. Zhang is interested in understanding how air-ice-ocean interaction in polar oceans affects polar and global climate. He investigates properties of polar air-ice-ocean systems using large- scale sea ice and ocean models. His recent work has focused on examining the evolution of the sea ice cover and the upper ocean in the Arctic in response to a significant climate change recently observed in the northern polar ocean.

He has developed a coupled global ice-ocean model to study the responses of sea ice to different conditions of surface heat fluxes and the effects of sea ice growth/decay on oceanic thermohaline circulation. He is also interested in developing next-generation sea ice models which capture anisotropic nature of ice dynamics. Dr. Zhang joined the Laboratory in 1994

Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.S. Shipbuilding & Ocean Engineering, Harbin Shipbuilding Engineering Institute, China, 1982

M.S. Ship Fluid Dynamics & Ocean Engineering, China Ship Scientific Research Center, 1984

Ph.D. Ice and Ocean Dynamics, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, 1993


Changing Sea Ice and the Bering Sea Ecosystem

Part of the BEST (Bering Sea Ecosystem Study) Project, this study will use high-resolution modeling of Bering Sea circulation to understand past change in the eastern Bering climate and ecosystem and to predict the timing and scope of future change.


The Arctic Ocean Model Intercomparison Project (AOMIP): Synthesis and Integration

The AOMIP science goals are to validate and improve Arctic Ocean models in a coordinated fashion and investigate variability of the Arctic Ocean and sea ice at seasonal to decadal time scales, and identify mechanisms responsible for the observed changes. The project's practical goals are to maintain and enhance the established AOMIP international collaboration to reduce uncertainties in model predictions (model validation and improvements via coordinated experiments and studies); support synthesis across the suite of Arctic models; organize scientific meetings and workshops; conduct collaboration with other MIPs with a special focus on model improvements and analysis; disseminate findings of AOMIP effort to broader communities; and train a new generation of ocean and sea-ice modelers.


The Impact of Changes in Arctic Sea Ice on the Marine Planktonic Ecosystem- Synthesis and Modeling of Retrospective and Future Conditions

This work will investigate the historical and contemporary changes of arctic sea ice, water column, and aspects of the marine ecosystem as an integrated entity, and project future changes associated with a diminished arctic ice cover under several plausible warming scenarios.


More Projects


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Future sea ice conditions and weather forecasts in the Arctic: Implications for Arctic shipping

Gascard, J.-C., and 7 others including J. Zhang, "Future sea ice conditions and weather forecasts in the Arctic: Implications for Arctic shipping," Ambio, 46, 35-367, doi:10.1007/s13280-017-0951-5, 2017

More Info

1 Dec 2017

The ability to forecast sea ice (both extent and thickness) and weather conditions are the major factors when it comes to safe marine transportation in the Arctic Ocean. This paper presents findings focusing on sea ice and weather prediction in the Arctic Ocean for navigation purposes, in particular along the Northeast Passage. Based on comparison with the observed sea ice concentrations for validation, the best performing Earth system models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) program (CMIP5 — Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5) were selected to provide ranges of potential future sea ice conditions. Our results showed that, despite a general tendency toward less sea ice cover in summer, internal variability will still be large and shipping along the Northeast Passage might still be hampered by sea ice blocking narrow passages. This will make sea ice forecasts on shorter time and space scales and Arctic weather prediction even more important.

A meteoric water budget for the Arctic Ocean

Alkire, M.B., J. Morison, A. Schweiger, J. Zhang, M. Steele, C. Peralta-Ferriz, and S. Dickinson, "A meteoric water budget for the Arctic Ocean," J. Geophys. Res., EOR, doi:10.1002/2017JC012807, 2017.

More Info

6 Oct 2017

A budget of meteoric water (MW = river runoff, net precipitation minus evaporation, and glacial meltwater) over four regions of the Arctic Ocean is constructed using a simple box model, regional precipitation-evaporation estimates from reanalysis data sets, and estimates of import and export fluxes derived from the literature with a focus on the 2003–2008 period. The budget indicates an approximate/slightly positive balance between MW imports and exports (i.e., no change in storage); thus, the observed total freshwater increase observed during this time period likely resulted primarily from changes in non-MW freshwater components (i.e., increases in sea ice melt or Pacific water and/or a decrease in ice export). Further, our analysis indicates that the MW increase observed in the Canada Basin resulted from a spatial redistribution of MW over the Arctic Ocean. Mean residence times for MW were estimated for the Western Arctic (5–7 years), Eastern Arctic (3–4 years), and Lincoln Sea (1–2 years). The MW content over the Siberian shelves was estimated (~14,000 km3) based on a residence time of 3.5 years. The MW content over the entire Arctic Ocean was estimated to be ≥ 44,000 km3. The MW export through Fram Strait consisted mostly of water from the Eastern Arctic (3237 ± 1370 km3 yr-1) whereas the export through the Canadian Archipelago was nearly equally derived from both the Western Arctic (1182 ± 534 km3 yr-1) and Lincoln Sea (972 ± 391 km3 yr-1).

Multi-model seasonal forecast of Arctic sea ice: Forecast uncertainty at pan-Arctic and regional scales

Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, E., and 13 others including J. Zhang, "Multi-model seasonal forecast of Arctic sea ice: Forecast uncertainty at pan-Arctic and regional scales," Clim. Dyn., 49, 1399-1410, doi:10.1007/s00382-016-3388-9, 2017.

More Info

1 Aug 2017

Dynamical model forecasts in the Sea Ice Outlook (SIO) of September Arctic sea-ice extent over the last decade have shown lower skill than that found in both idealized model experiments and hindcasts of previous decades. Additionally, it is unclear how different model physics, initial conditions or forecast post-processing (bias correction) techniques contribute to SIO forecast uncertainty. In this work, we have produced a seasonal forecast of 2015 Arctic summer sea ice using SIO dynamical models initialized with identical sea-ice thickness in the central Arctic. Our goals are to calculate the relative contribution of model uncertainty and irreducible error growth to forecast uncertainty and assess the importance of post-processing, and to contrast pan-Arctic forecast uncertainty with regional forecast uncertainty. We find that prior to forecast post-processing, model uncertainty is the main contributor to forecast uncertainty, whereas after forecast post-processing forecast uncertainty is reduced overall, model uncertainty is reduced by an order of magnitude, and irreducible error growth becomes the main contributor to forecast uncertainty. While all models generally agree in their post-processed forecasts of September sea-ice volume and extent, this is not the case for sea-ice concentration. Additionally, forecast uncertainty of sea-ice thickness grows at a much higher rate along Arctic coastlines relative to the central Arctic ocean. Potential ways of offering spatial forecast information based on the timescale over which the forecast signal beats the noise are also explored.

More Publications

In The News

Arctic sea ice volume, now tracking record low, stars in data visualization

UW News and Information, Hannah Hickey

The Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) combines weather observations, sea-surface temperature and satellite pictures of ice coverage to compute ice volume and then compares that with on-the-ground measurements. PIOMAS ice numbers starred in an animated graphic posted this week by a climate scientist at the University of Reading.

7 Jul 2016

UW researchers attend sea ice conference — above the Arctic Circle

UW News and Information, Hannah Hickey

University of Washington polar scientists are on Alaska’s North Slope this week for the 2016 Barrow Sea Ice Camp. Supported by the National Science Foundation, the event brings together U.S.-based sea ice observers, satellite experts and modelers at various career stages to collect data and discuss issues related to measuring and modeling sea ice. The goal is to integrate the research community in order to better observe and understand the changes in Arctic sea ice.

1 Jun 2016

Antarctic sea ice his 35-year record high Saturday

The Washington Post Blogs, Jason Samenow

Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record large extent for a second straight year, baffling scientists seeking to understand why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world.

23 Sep 2013

More News Items

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center