The Hu Climate Dynamics Lab, led by Shineng Hu, assistant professor of physical oceanography, combines observations, theory and climate modeling to study climate dynamics on a broad range of timescales, with a particular focus on ocean-atmosphere interactions. Research topics include El Niño, ocean inter-basin interactions, global warming and paleoclimate.

Yiqun Tian, a PhD student in Earth and Climate Sciences, recently shared insights into the Hu Lab, its research focus, her experience in the lab and the opportunities the lab offers Duke students.

What is the lab's research focus and what big questions is it trying to answer? 

“The Hu Climate Dynamics Lab employs an integrative approach that combines observations, theoretical frameworks, and climate modeling to investigate climate variability and change across various timescales. Our primary focus is to understand the ocean’s role in the climate system via the interactions with the atmosphere. Our research spans diverse topics such as global warming pattern, climate and weather extremes, ocean inter-basin interactions, and paleoclimate modeling. Leveraging a wide range of research tools from numerical modeling to machine learning techniques, our lab strives to enhance the predictability of extreme climate and weather events (e.g., El Niño, marine heatwaves, snowfall, wildfires) and to achieve a more reliable future projection of global temperature and hydrological cycle.”  

Hu Lab members at restaurant

Hu Lab members dinner at AGU

What has been your favorite or most rewarding experience in the lab so far? 

“Weekly, our lab gathers for lab meetings where we delve into intriguing papers, share our recent research development or explore topics that captivate our interest. I particularly cherish these lab meetings because they provide a platform for us to express our academic viewpoints freely and engage in lively debates across various schools of thought. These discussions are invaluable as I find myself learning significantly from my colleagues, gaining insights that go beyond what I could grasp through solitary paper readings.

Additionally, one of my favorite lab activities is our retreats! Whether we collectively choose a restaurant for our retreat or attend the delightful parties hosted by Dr. Hu at his house every semester, these retreats are incredibly enjoyable. They not only offer a great time but also foster stronger bonds among us, deepening our understanding of one another.”  

What opportunities does your lab offer students and how does that experience contribute to their academic and career growth? 

“Dr. Hu fosters an environment where each lab member can explore their unique interests. He encourages our participation in academic conferences annually and suggests engaging in summer schools and fellowship programs. Being a third-year PhD student, I have already attended two in-person conferences and a summer school in Italy this past summer. These experiences enable me to interact with field experts and connect with peers from various institutions and universities. Each event I attend accelerates my growth, providing clarity regarding my future career path.” 

Group photo in Italy

Tian at a summer school in Italy

Each month the Nicholas School will highlight the work of one of its labs through the lens of a lab member. For more information on Duke Environment research visit our research page and to keep up with the latest news, subscribe to our monthly Research + Impact email newsletter