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

Pushing the limit: Resilience of an arctic copepod to environmental fluctuations

Kvile, K.Ø., C. Ashjian, Z. Feng, J. Zhang, and J. Rubao, "Pushing the limit: Resilience of an arctic copepod to environmental fluctuations," Global Change Biol., 24, 5426-5439, doi:10.1111/gcb.14419, 2018.

More Info

1 Nov 2018

Life history strategies such as multiyear life cycles, resting stages, and capital breeding allow species to inhabit regions with extreme and fluctuating environmental conditions. One example is the zooplankton species Calanus hyperboreus, whose life history is considered an adaptation to the short and unpredictable growth season in the central Arctic Ocean. This copepod is commonly described as a true Arctic endemic; however, by statistically analyzing compiled observational data, we show that abundances are relatively low and later stages and adults dominate in the central Arctic Ocean basins, indicating expatriation. Combining data analyses with individual‐based modeling and energy requirement estimation, we further demonstrate that while C. hyperboreus can reach higher abundances in areas with greater food availability outside the central Arctic basins, the species' resilience to environmental fluctuations enables the life cycle to be completed in the central Arctic basins. Specifically, the energy level required to reach the first overwintering stage — a prerequisite for successful local production — is likely met in some — but not all — years. This fine balance between success and failure indicates that C. hyperboreus functions as a peripheral population in the central Arctic basins and its abundance will likely increase in areas with improved growth conditions in response to climate change. By illustrating a key Arctic species' resilience to extreme and fluctuating environmental conditions, the results of this study have implications for projections of future biogeography and food web dynamics in the Arctic Ocean, a region experiencing rapid warming and sea ice loss.

Arctic sea ice volume changes in terms of age as revealed from satellite observations

Bi., H., J. Zhang, Y. Wang, Z. Zhang, Y. Zhang, M. Fu, H Huang, and X. Xu, "Arctic sea ice volume changes in terms of age as revealed from satellite observations," IEEE J. Sel. Top. Appl. Earth Obs. Remote Sens., 11, 2223-2237, doi:10.1109/JSTARS.2018.2823735, 2018.

More Info

1 Jul 2018

Satellite remote sensing provides new insight into the large-scale changes within the Arctic sea ice cover. In this study, satellite-derived sea ice parameters (thickness and age) were explored to investigate age-dependent Arctic sea ice volume changes. Between 2003–2008 (ICESat) and 2011–2015 (CyroSat-2), Arctic Ocean sea ice experienced a net depletion of roughly 4.68 x 103 km3 during autumn (October–November) and about 87% (or 4.11 x 103 km3) is caused by the removal in multiyear ice (two years and older). In spring (February–March), the net ice depletion amounts to 1.46 x 103 km3, with the multiyear ice loss of 3.74 x 103 km3 and seasonal ice increment of 2.24 x 103 km3. Among multiyear ice loss, about 74% (autumn) and 93% (spring) of the loss were attributable to the depletion of the oldest ice type (5 years and older). Analyses also affirm that the marvelous volume loss of multiyear ice during cold months (October–May) in 2006/2007 and 2011/2012, along with the low replenishment of perennial ice as noted in the following autumns in 2007 and 2012, plays a major role in leading to a younger Arctic sea ice cover. Consequently, these processes together favors for the overall substantial volume loss observed in the Arctic sea ice cover.

Collapse of the 2017 winter Beaufort high: A response to thinning sea ice?

Moore, G.W.K., A. Schweiger, J. Zhang, and M. Steele, "Collapse of the 2017 winter Beaufort high: A response to thinning sea ice?," Geophys. Res. Lett., 45, 2860-2869, doi:10.1002/2017GL076446, 2018.

More Info

28 Mar 2018

The winter Arctic atmosphere is under the influence of two very different circulation systems: extratropical cyclones travel along the primary North Atlantic storm track from Iceland toward the eastern Arctic, while the western Arctic is characterized by a quasi‐stationary region of high pressure known as the Beaufort High. The winter (January through March) of 2017 featured an anomalous reversal of the normally anticyclonic surface winds and sea ice motion in the western Arctic. This reversal can be traced to a collapse of the Beaufort High as the result of the intrusion of low‐pressure systems from the North Atlantic, along the East Siberian Coast, into the Arctic Basin. Thin sea ice as the result of an extremely warm autumn (October through December) of 2016 contributed to the formation of an anomalous thermal low over the Barents Sea that, along with a northward shift of the tropospheric polar vortex, permitted this intrusion. The collapse of the Beaufort High during the winter of 2017 was associated with simultaneous 2‐sigma sea level pressure, surface wind, and sea ice circulation anomalies in the western Arctic. As the Arctic sea ice continues to thin, such reversals may become more common and impact ocean circulation, sea ice, and biology.

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