GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

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The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) is engaged in comprehensive long lead-time research fundamental to NOAA's mission. Scientists at GFDL develop and use mathematical models and computer simulations to improve our understanding and prediction of the behavior of the atmosphere, the oceans, and climate. GFDL scientists focus on model-building relevant for society, such as hurricane research, prediction, and seasonal forecasting, and understanding global and regional climate change.

Since 1955, GFDL has set the agenda for much of the world's research on the modeling of global climate change and has played a significant role in the World Meteorological Organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. GFDL's mission is to be a world leader in the development of earth system models, and the production of timely and reliable knowledge and assessments on natural climate variability and anthropogenic changes.

GFDL research encompasses the predictability and sensitivity of global and regional climate; the structure, variability, dynamics and interaction of the atmosphere and the ocean; and the ways that the atmosphere and oceans influence, and are influenced by various trace constituents. The scientific work of the Laboratory incorporates a variety of disciplines including meteorology, oceanography, hydrology, classical physics, fluid dynamics, chemistry, applied mathematics, and numerical analysis.

Research is also facilitated by the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program (AOS), which is a collaborative program at GFDL with Princeton University. Under this program, Princeton faculty, research scientists, and graduate students participate in theoretical studies, both analytical and numerical, and in observational experiments in the laboratory and in the field. The program is supported in part by NOAA funding. AOS scientists may also be involved in GFDL research through institutional or international agreements.

For an overview of GFDL's work, see our Fact Sheet.

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Research Highlights

  • October 12, 2014 Karakoram snowfall less sensitive to warming than Himalayas due to a unique seasonal cycle - The high mountains of Asia, including the Karakoram, Himalayas, and Tibetan Plateau, combine to form a region of perplexing hydroclimate changes. Glaciers in the Karakoram region have exhibited mass stability or even expansion, contrasting with glacial mass loss across the nearby Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. This suggests that different regional snowfall or temperature signals might be detected in the Karakoram region. However, the remote location, complex terrain, and multi-country fabric of high-mountain Asia have made it difficult to maintain longer-term monitoring systems of the meteorological components that can influence glacial change. Read more
  • September 29, 2014 Seasonal- and annual-mean precipitation extremes occurring during 2013: A U.S. focused analysis - Extreme seasonal/annual precipitation, defined here as ranking first, second, or third highest or lowest in the record of at least 100 years, occurred in several continental U.S. regions during 2013. The authors of this study used CMIP5 models to simulate internal climate variability and the response to historical anthropogenic and natural forcings, for the Northern Tier and the Upper Midwest regions of the U.S. This study suggests that, for these two regions, extreme annual or seasonal positive precipitation anomalies over the U.S. were at least partly attributable to a combination of anthropogenic and natural forcing. Read more
  • September 17, 2014 Retrieval of Tropical Storm Statistics by Combining Data with a High-Resolution Coupled Model - In order to produce better seasonal-to-interannual climate predictions, GFDL scientists explored improvements in the method of initializing a high-resolution coupled model. Traditionally, when observations are assimilated into a high-resolution coupled model, small-scale cyclones tend to get filtered out in the process of making corrections to the large-scale background. GFDL scientists pioneered a method of processing the large-scale background and the small-scale perturbations separately in a cyclone-permitting model. Read more
  • August 22, 2014 Predicting a decadal shift in North Atlantic climate variability using the GFDL forecast system - The goals of this research were to assess the role of AMOC in global climate and identify the predictability of the associated climate impacts. Decadal prediction experiments were conducted as part of CMIP5 using a prototype GFDL-CM2.1 forecast system. The abrupt warming of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre (SPG), observed in the mid-1990s, was used as a case study to evaluate the forecast capabilities of the model, and to better understand the reasons for the observed changes. Read more

Read more GFDL Research Highlights

Events & Seminars

  • December 3, 2014: MJO and tropical cyclone prediction in the GFDL coupled climate model (abstract)
    Baoqiang Xiang (GFDL/UCAR)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • December 4, 2014: Multi-scale modeling of ecosystem structure and function (abstract)
    Gabriel Katul (Duke U.)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • December 10, 2014: The Seasonality of the Great Plains Low-Level Jet and ENSO Relationship (abstract)
    Lakshmi Krishnamurthy (UCAR/GFDL)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • December 11, 2014: Enhancement of precipitation extremes over the Southeastern US (abstract)
    Wenhong Li (Duke University)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • January 14, 2015: TBA
    Griffies Guest (TBA)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • January 22, 2015: TBA
    Anne Thompson (NASA/GSFC)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • January 28, 2015: Poster Expo (abstract)
    Poster Expo (GFDL)
    Time: All Day
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • January 29, 2015: TBA
    Susan Lozier (Duke University)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room

More events & seminars...