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

  • February 24, 2015 An Extreme Event of Sea-level Rise along the Northeast Coast of North America in 2009–2010 - Coastal sea levels along continental margins often show significant year-to-year upward and downward fluctuations. These fluctuations are superimposed on a longer term upward trend associated with the rise in global mean sea level, with global mean sea level rising at roughly 3 mm per year during the recent 20 years of accurate satellite measures. For society, it is the regional changes along any particular coastal zone that are most important. Our analysis of multi-decadal tide gauge records along the North American east coast identified an extreme sea-level rise event during 2009–2010. Within this relatively brief two-year period, coastal sea level north of New York City jumped by up to 128 mm. This magnitude of inter-annual sea level rise is unprecedented in the tide gauge records, with statistical methods suggesting that it was a 1-in-850 year event. Read more
  • February 5, 2015 Tropical Climate Change Control of the Lower Stratospheric Circulation - Tropical air has less ozone than polar air, even though the tropical stratosphere is where most atmospheric ozone is produced. The Brewer-Dobson circulation is considered key to understanding this apparent contrast. It also brings water vapor, aerosols and other species from the troposphere up into the stratosphere. The strength of the Brewer-Dobson circulation directly affects the thermal structure of the stratosphere and upper troposphere, and impacts the transport and distribution of important climate-influencing constituents including stratospheric water vapor, ozone, and volcanic aerosols. Read more
  • December 16, 2014 Drivers of trophic amplification of ocean productivity trends in a changing climate - Earth System Models (ESMs) project that climate change will lead to approximately 1-10% declines in global ocean phytoplankton productivity by the end of the 21st century, under high carbon emissions scenarios. This decline results from projected increases in ocean stratification under global warming, which hinders the supply of deep ocean nutrients to the well-lit surface ocean. Read more
  • 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

Read more GFDL Research Highlights

Events & Seminars

  • March 4, 2015: Tidal Mixing (abstract)
    Jonas Nycander (Stockholm University)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • March 5, 2015: A microscale view of mixing and overturning across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (abstract)
    Alberto Naveira-Garabato (U of Southampton, UK)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • March 11, 2015: TBA
    Dan Li (AOS)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • March 12, 2015: TBA
    Mat Collins (Exeter - United Kingdom)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • March 26, 2015: TBA
    Richard Moss (PNNL, Richland, WA)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • April 2, 2015: TBA
    Jeremey Fyke (Los Alamos Natl. Lab)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • April 9, 2015: TBA
    Joanie Kleypas (NCAR)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • April 16, 2015: TBA
    Robert Allen (UC - Riverside)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room

More events & seminars...