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GFDL Research Highlights

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February 14, 2014 - Changing Ocean may Challenge Atlantic Cod
This study uses climate projections from GFDL’s Earth system model (ESM2.1) to force an individual-based model for the larval stages of North Atlantic Cod at each of 5 cod spawning sites across the North Atlantic. The behavioral and physiological state of thousands of cod larvae is modeled in response to ESM projected physical and biological changes. The ESM-IBM coupling provides a unique means of exploring the mechanistic response of cod larvae to climate forcing. Read more...

February 6, 2014 - Solving the mystery of Hawaiian ozone changes
A potent greenhouse gas and biological irritant, ozone near the Earth surface is also a health-damaging air pollutant, regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Climate shifts have caused Asian ozone pollution reaching Hawaii to rise unexpectedly in autumn since mid-1990s, according to this study. The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, imply that variability in airflow patterns must be considered when attributing observed ozone changes to human-induced trends in precursor emissions. Read more...

January 28, 2014 - Regular patterns in frictional resistance of ice-stream beds seen by surface data inversion
This study advances our understanding of the physical processes controlling the dynamics of ice streams - pathways for ice discharge from the interior of ice sheets to surrounding oceans - and the leading source of uncertainty in projections of global sea level rise in the 21st century. Read more...

September 18, 2013 - The Extreme March-May 2012 Warm Anomaly Over the Eastern United States: Global Context and Multimodel Trend Analysis
The authors compared observations to model results, using 23 different CMIP5 models to simulate internal climate variability and the response to anthropogenic and natural forcing. The models were used to investigate the causes of the unusual warmth during March-May 2012 that occurred over the eastern U.S. The 20th century warming trend that was observed in this region is consistent with the CMIP5 multi-model ensemble results of All-Forcing runs but not consistent with model runs that did not include external forcing. Read more...

September 10, 2013 - Global-scale carbon and energy flows through the planktonic food web: an analysis with a coupled physical-biological model
Planktonic food web dynamics shape biogeochemical cycles and global patterns of ocean productivity across trophic levels. Primary production alone, for example, is a poor predictor of cross-ecosystem differences in fisheries yields. Predictive capability improves only after consideration of factors such as the number and efficiency of trophic links separating phytoplankton and fish. Limited representation and validation of planktonic food web dynamics within the present generation of Earth System Models limits both their resolution of biogeochemical processes and their utility for assessing climate impacts on living marine resources. Read more...

August 30, 2013 - Multi-Model Assessment of Regional Surface Temperature Trends: CMIP3 and CMIP5 20th Century Simulations
Evaluating climate simulations against observational data is a fundamental step in the evaluation and eventual improvement of models. Models can also help test our understanding of the causes of past variations of climate seen in the historical record. This analysis shows how current climate models, including those developed by NOAA, compare with observations in terms of their regional surface temperature trends since 1901. Read more...

August 19, 2013 - Model Projections of the Changes in Atmospheric Circulation and Surface Climate over North America, North Atlantic and Europe in the 21st Century
The impacts of climate change on the North America-North Atlantic-Europe sector are studied using a coupled general circulation model (CM3) and a high-resolution atmosphere-only model (HIRAM), both developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Long-term changes in surface temperature, precipitation and storminess patterns over Europe and the North Atlantic are projected. Read more...

July 19, 2013 - Earlier Onset of the Indian Monsoon in the late 20th century: the Role of Anthropogenic Aerosols
This study investigates the impact of the late 20th century increase of anthropogenic aerosols on the onset of the Indian summer monsoon. Aerosols are likely responsible for the observed earlier onset, resulting in enhanced June precipitation over most of India. This shift is preceded by strong aerosol forcing over the Bay of Bengal and Indochina, mostly attributable to the direct effect, resulting in increased atmospheric stability that inhibits the monsoon migration in May. Read more...

June 24, 2013 - Dynamical Downscaling Projections of Late 21st Century Atlantic Hurricane Activity: CMIP3 and CMIP5 Model-based Scenarios
The authors explored the influence of anthropogenic climate change on Atlantic hurricane activity in the 21st century, using dynamical climate models. The results of experiments using multi-model climate change scenarios were compared, with one scenario taken from CMIP3 (A1B), and one from CMIP5 (RCP4.5). A significant reduction in the frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes is projected for both CMIP3 and CMIP5 ensembles. Read more...

April 15, 2013 - Response to CO2 doubling of the Atlantic Hurricane Main Development Region in a High-Resolution Climate Model
The authors simulated the response of sea surface temperature (SST) in the Atlantic Hurricane Main Development Region (MDR) to a doubling of CO2, using a cutting-edge global high-resolution coupled model developed at GFDL (CM2.5). The model has been shown to produce a very faithful simulation of the observed seasonal cycle and year-to-year (or interannual) variability in the tropical Atlantic. The skillful representation of Atlantic interannual variability enables the exploration of the response of interannual variability to increasing CO2 – in addition to exploring changes in the average conditions in the Atlantic. Read more...

March 29, 2013 - Sensitivity of tropospheric oxidants to biomass burning emissions: implications for radiative forcing
Biomass burning is one of the largest sources of trace gases and aerosols in the atmosphere, and has profound influence on tropospheric oxidants and radiative forcing. Using a fully coupled chemistry-climate model (GFDL AM3), the authors found that co-emission of trace gases and aerosol from present-day biomass burning increases the global tropospheric ozone burden by 5.1%, and decreases global mean OH, a major sink for methane, by 6.3%. Read more...

March 11, 2013 - Ocean Warming effect on Surface Gravity Wave Climate Change for the end of the 21st Century
Future changes in wind-wave patterns have broad implications for ecosystems, as well as the design and operation of coastal, near-and-off-shore industries. Changes in response to global warming may further exacerbate the anticipated vulnerabilities of coastal regions to projected sea-level rise. Read more...

March 4, 2013 - Cloud tuning in a coupled climate model: impact on 20th century warming
Clouds remain one of the largest sources of uncertainty in predictions from climate models. Globally, clouds cool the Earth through the net effect of two opposing contributions: cooling from reflection of incoming solar radiation and warming from trapping of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth. By comparison, the cooling effect of clouds is estimated to be about six times larger than the warming effect resulting from the increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases since 1750. This is why uncertainties in the representation of clouds can have considerable impact on the simulated climate. Read more...

February 24, 2013 - Heat stress reduces labor capacity under climate warming
The authors use existing occupational health and safety thresholds to establish a new metric to quantify a healthy, acclimated individual’s capacity to safely perform sustained labor under environmental heat stress (what we call labor capacity). Using climate model projections, we apply this metric to quantify the direct impact of global warming on the global human population in the future. Read more...

February 15, 2013 - Controls of Global Snow Under Climate Change
Understanding snowfall variability is key to understanding future water supply in snowmelt-dominated regions, like the western U.S. This research validated GFDL’s coupled climate models, CM2.5 and CM2.1, for snowfall and explored changes in snowfall in a future climate experiment, to determine if resolution differences in the models influence snowfall signals. Read more...

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