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 1, 2016 Enhanced Atlantic Sea Level Rise Relative to the Pacific Under High Carbon Emission Rates - Recent observational studies indicate that more than 90% of the anthropogenically-generated heat anomaly generated between 1971 and 2010 has gone into warming the oceans. Furthermore, the Atlantic basin is warming faster than the Pacific. This study demonstrates that basin scale differences in heat uptake and sea level rise are a forced response from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and the inter-basin differences vary with emission rate. Read more
  • January 8, 2016 Enhanced warming of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean under climate change - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment of projected global and regional ocean temperature change is based on global climate models that have coarse (~100-km) ocean and atmosphere resolutions. In the Northwest Atlantic, the ensemble of global climate models has a warm bias in sea surface temperature due to a misrepresentation of the Gulf Stream position; thus, existing climate change projections are based on unrealistic regional ocean circulation. Read more
  • 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 NiƱa 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

Read more GFDL Research Highlights

Events & Seminars

  • February 10, 2016: The inconstancy of transient climate response (abstract)
    Jonathan Gregory (University of Reading, UK)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • February 11, 2016: Bridging the Gap Between Climate Science and Water-resource Applications (abstract)
    Jeff Arnold (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • February 17, 2016: Strange Floods: The Upper Tail of Flood Peaks in the Conterminous US (abstract)
    James Smith
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • February 18, 2016: Exploring Air Quality in a Changing World (abstract)
    Colette Heald (MIT)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • February 23, 2016: History of GFDL-Princeton Connection (abstract)
    Joseph Smagorinsky (video recording)
    Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • February 25, 2016: The changing hydrology of the western U.S. (abstract)
    Dennis Lettenmaier (UCLA)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • March 2, 2016: TBD (abstract)
    Gabriel Chiodo (Columbia University)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • March 3, 2016: TBD (abstract)
    Adam Scaife (UK MET Office/Exeter, UK )
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room

More events & seminars...