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Tong (Tony) Lee

Photo of Tong Lee


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 300-323

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Earth Science

Senior Research Scientist


  • B.S., Mechanics, Sun Yat-Sen University, China (1984)
  • M.S., Marine Studies, University of Delaware (1989)
  • Ph.D., Oceanography, University of Rhode Island (1994)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    • Senior Research Scientist (2021 - present)
    • Supervisor, Ocean Circulation & Air-Sea Interaction Group (2015-Jan 2022)
    • Project Scientist for Aquarius satellite mission (2013-2017)
    • Supervisor, Oceans and Ice Group (2011- 2015)
    • Principal Scientist (2006 - 2021)
    • Scientist/Research Scientist (1996-2006)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Postdoctoral Research Associate (1994-1996)

Research Interests

General interest: physical oceanography and linkages of the ocean with the water cycle, climate variability, and weather. Specific foci: intraseasonal-to-decadal variability; ENSO diversity and teleconnections/impacts; upper-ocean heat and salt budgets; meridional circulation and heat transports; Indo-Pacific circulations and their linkages; ocean remote sensing; data assimilation.

Selected Awards

  • 2020 NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
  • 2020 JPL Ed Stone Award for Outstanding Research Publication
  • 2015 JPL People Leadership Award
  • 2012 NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
  • 2012 JPL Team Achievement Award for contribution to IPCC Fifth Assessment Report
  • 2011 JPL Mariner Award for extraordinary scientific productivity
  • 2010 NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal
  • 2009 NASA Group Achievement Award: PO.DAAC Team

Selected Publications

  1. McPhaden, M.J., T. Lee, S. Fournier, and M.A. Balmaseda, 2020: ENSO Observations, Chpt.3 in: "El Niño Southern Oscillation in a Changing Climate", M. J. McPhaden, A. Santoso, and W. Cai, Eds. AGU Geophysical Monograph Series, ISBN: 978-1-119-54812-6. 528pp. Wiley, Hoboken NJ.
  2. Lee, T., S. Fournier, A. L. Gordon, J. Sprintall, 2019: Maritime continent water cycle regulates low-latitude chokepoint of global ocean circulation. Nature Comm., 10, 2013 (2019), DOI:10.1038/s41467-019-10109-z.
  3. Vinogradova, N., T. Lee, J. Boutin, et al., 2019: Satellite salinity observing system: recent discoveries and the way forward. Frontiers Mar. Sci., accepted.
  4. Fu, L.-L., T. Lee, W.T. Liu, R. Kwok, 2019: Fifty years of Satellite Remote Sensing of the Ocean. Chpt. 13 in AMS Centennial Anniversary Monograph. DOI: 10.1175/AMSMONOGRAPHS-D-18-0010.1.
  5. Lee, T., J.T. Farrar, and S. Arnault, et al. 2017: Monitoring and interpreting the tropical oceans by satellite altimetry. Chapter 7 in satellite altimetry textbook "Satellite Altimetry Over Ocean and Land Surfaces", Editors D. Stammer and A. Cazenave, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group. 644pp, ISBN 9781498743457.
  6. Lee, T. 2016: Consistency of Aquarius sea surface salinity with Argo products on various spatial and temporal scales. Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 10.1002/2016GL068822. April 2016.
  7. Kidwell, A., T. Lee, Y.-H. Jo, and X.-H. Yan, 2016: Characterization of the variability of the South Pacific Convergence Zone using satellite and reanalysis wind products. J. Clim. 29, 1717-1732. DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0536.1.
  8. Fournier, S., T. Lee, and M. Gierach, 2016: Seasonal and interannual variations of sea surface salinity associated with the Mississippi River plume observed by SMOS and Aquarius. Remote Sensing. Environ. 180, 431-439.
  9. Llovel, W., and T. Lee, 2015: Importance and origin of halosteric contribution to sea level change in the southeast Indian Ocean during 2005-2013. 42, 1148-1157, Geophys. Res. Lett., DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062611.
  10. Lee, T., G. Lagerloef, H.-Y. Kao, M.J. McPhaden, J. Willis, M. Gierach, 2014: The influence of salinity on tropical Atlantic instability waves. J. Geophys. Res., 119, DOI:10.1002/2014JC010100.
  11. Guan, B, T. Lee, D. Waliser, and D. Halkides, 2014: Aquarius Surface Salinity and the Madden-Julian Oscillation: the Role of Salinity in Surface Layer Density and Potential Energy. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, doi:10.1002/2014GL059704.
  12. Lee, T., D.E. Waliser, J.-L. Li, F.W. Landerer, and M.M. Gierach, 2013: Evaluation of CMIP3 and CMIP5 wind stress climatology using satellite measurements and atmospheric reanalysis products. J. Clim., 26, 5810-5826, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00591.1.
  13. Lee, T., G. Lagerloef, M.M. Gierach, H.-Y. Kao, SS. Yueh, and K. Dohan, 2012: Aquarius reveals salinity structure of tropical instability waves. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L12610, doi:10.1029/2012GL052232.
  14. Gierach, M.M., T. Lee, DD. Turk, M. McPhadden, 2012: Biological response to the 1997-98 and 2009-10 El Nino events in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L10602, doi:10.1029/2012GL051103.
  15. McPhaden, M., T. Lee, and D. McClurg, 2011: El Niño and its Relationship to Changing Background Conditions in the Tropical Pacific. Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L15709, doi:10.1029/2011GL048275.
  16. Boening, C., T. Lee, and V. Zlotnicki, 2011: A record-high ocean bottom pressure in the South Pacific observed by GRACE. Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L04602, doi:10.1029/2010GL046013.
  17. Lee, T., B. Qiu, S. Hakkinen, et al., 2010: Satellite observations of ocean circulation changes associated with climate variability. TOS, Oceanography. Vol.23, No.4, 70-81.
  18. Lee, T., W. Hobbs, and J. Willis, et al., 2010: Record warming in the South Pacific and western Antarctica associated with the strong central-Pacific El Niño in 2009-10. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L19704, doi:10.1029/2010GL044865.
  19. Lee, T., and M. McPhaden, 2010: Increasing intensity of El Nino in the central-equatorial Pacific. Geophys. Res. Lett., L14603, doi:10.1029/2010GL044007.
  20. Lee, T., T. Awaji, M. Balmaseda, et al., 2010: Consistency and fidelity of Indonesian-throughflow total volume transport estimated by 14 ocean data assimilation products. Dyn. Atmos. Oceans. Doi:10.1016/j.dynatmoce.2009.12.004.
  21. Lee, T., M. Balmaseda, E. Greiner, and D. Stammer, 2009: Ocean state estimation for climate research, TOS, Oceanography, 22, 160-167.
  22. Halkides, D., and T. Lee, 2009: Mechanisms controlling seasonal-to-interannual mixed-layer temperature variability in the southeastern tropical Indian Ocean. J. Geophys. Res., 114, C02012, doi:10.1029/2008JC004949.
  23. Lee, T., O. Wang, W.-Q. Tang, and W.T. Liu, 2008: Wind stress measurements from the QuikSCAT-SeaWinds scatterometer tandem mission and the impact on an ocean model. J. Geophys. Res., 113, C12019, doi:10.1029/2008JC004855.
  24. Volkov, D. L., T. Lee, and L.-L. Fu, 2008: Eddy-induced meridional heat transport in the ocean, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2008GL035490.
  25. Lee, T., and M.J. McPhaden 2008: Decadal phase change in large-scale sea level and winds in the Indo-Pacific region at the end of the 20th century. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L01605, doi:10.1029/2007GL032419.
  26. Cabanes, C., T. Lee, and L.-L. Fu, 2008: Mechanisms of Interannual Variations of the Meridional Overturning Circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 38, 467-480.
  27. Kim, S.-B., T. Lee, I. Fukumori, 2007: Mechanisms controlling the interannual variation of mixed layer temperature averaged over the NINO3 region. J. Clim., 20, 3822-3843.
  28. Lee, T., and W. T. Liu, 2005: Effects of high-frequency wind sampling on simulated mixed-layer depth and upper-ocean temperature. J. Geophys. Res., 110, C05002, doi: 10.1029/2004JC002746.
  29. Lee, T., 2004: Decadal weakening of the shallow overturning circulation in the South Indian Ocean. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L18305, doi:10.1029/2004GL020884.
  30. Lee, T., I. Fukumori, and B. Tang, 2004: Temperature advection: internal versus external processes. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 34, 1936-1944.
  31. Fukumori, I., T. Lee, B. Cheng, and D. Menemenlis, 2004: The origin, pathway, and destination of NINO3 water estimated by a simulated passive tracer and its adjoint. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 34, 582-604.
  32. Lee, T., and I. Fukumori, 2003: Interannual to decadal variation of tropical-subtropical exchange in the Pacific Ocean: boundary versus interior pycnocline transports. J. Climate. 16, 4022-4042.
  33. Lee, T., I. Fukumori, D. Menemenlis, Z. Xing, and L.-L. Fu, 2002: Effects of the Indonesian Throughflow on the Pacific and Indian Ocean. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 32, 1404-1429.
  34. Lee, T., J.-P. Boulanger, A. Foo, L.-L. Fu, and R. Giering, 2000: Data assimilation by an intermediate coupled ocean-atmosphere model: application to the 1997-1998 El Nino. J. Geophys. Res., 105, 26063-26087.
  35. Lee, T., and J. Marotzke, 1998: Seasonal cycle of meridional overturning and heat transport of the Indian Ocean. J. Phys. Oceanogr., vol. 28, 923-943.