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

  • May 12, 2015 Climate variability modulates Western U.S. ozone air quality in spring via deep stratospheric intrusions - Exposure to ground-level ozone is associated with numerous effects on human health. It can also have harmful effects on sensitive vegetation and ecosystems. There is mounting evidence that deep stratospheric intrusions (when "good" ozone is forced from the stratosphere into the troposphere by strong winds) can elevate surface ozone to unhealthy levels at high-elevation western U.S. regions during spring. This study demonstrates a link between strong La Niña winters and late spring stratospheric intrusions in the western Rockies. Read more
  • April 7, 2015 Mechanisms for Low Frequency Variability of Summer Arctic Sea Ice Extent - Satellite observations reveal a substantial decline in September Arctic sea ice extent (SIE) since 1979. The exact mechanisms causing this rapid decline are still unclear. The goals of this research are to provide a fundamental understanding of low frequency variability of summer Arctic sea ice extent, and the implications for the observed decline in summer Arctic sea ice in recent decades. Read more
  • March 23, 2015 Understanding ENSO Diversity - The El Niño / Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is Earth's strongest interannual climate fluctuation, impacting weather, ecosystems, and economies around the world. Understanding the range of ENSO variation could help lead to longer range predictions of El Niño and La Niña events. The authors review the current state of understanding of diversity among different El Niño / Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, which differ from event to event in their amplitude, spatial pattern, temporal evolution, dynamical mechanisms, and impacts. Read more
  • March 13, 2015 A link between the hiatus in global warming and North American drought - The authors use three GFDL climate models (CM2.1, CM2.5_FLOR, CM2.5_FLOR_FA) to study the mechanisms behind the hiatus in global warming over the last decade and their possible relationship to southwestern U.S. drought. This study suggests that a majority of the drought in the southwestern U.S. over the last decade is the result of persistent anomalous wind conditions in the tropical Pacific, and is likely due to natural variability. Read more

Read more GFDL Research Highlights

Events & Seminars

  • June 10, 2015: NOAA Public Access to Research Results: A discussion of changing NOAA Requirements (abstract)
    Ronald Stouffer (NOAA/GFDL)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • June 11, 2015: Traveling Slippery Spots, Travelling Sticky Spots, and Massive Overturned Folds in Ice Sheets (abstract)
    Michael Wolowick (Columbia University)
    Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • June 17, 2015: Anthropogenic climate change drives shift and shuffle in marine phytoplankton communities (abstract)
    Andrew Barton (GFDL/CICS)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • June 18, 2015: Overturning in the North Atlantic: old paradigms, new observations and lingering questions (abstract)
    Susan Lozier (Duke University)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • June 19, 2015: TBD (abstract)
    Lei Yin (Univeristy Texas, Austin)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • June 22, 2015: Mechanisms of regional precipitation change from anthropogenic forcing (abstract)
    Jie He (Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • June 24, 2015: Climate trends analysis updates: Heat stress, precipitation, and the global warming hiatus (abstract)
    Thomas Knutson (NOAA/GFDL)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • June 25, 2015: Severe Convection: From Theory to Applications (abstract)
    Richard Rotunno (UCAR, Boulder, CO)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room

More events & seminars...