GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Skip to main content
Approaching storm


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.

Meet our scientists - handshake image

Research Highlights

  • 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
  • March 6, 2015 Improved Seasonal Prediction of Temperature and Precipitation over Land in a High-resolution GFDL Climate Model - Skillful seasonal predictions of surface temperature and precipitation over land are in demand, due to their importance to ecosystems and sectors such as agriculture, energy, transportation. This study demonstrates skillful seasonal prediction of near-surface air temperature and precipitation over land using a new high-resolution climate model developed at GFDL, called FLOR. The study also diagnoses the sources of the prediction skill. Read more

Read more GFDL Research Highlights

Events & Seminars

  • April 29, 2015: Get more from your data with PyFerret (abstract)
    Karl Smith (NOAA/PMEL (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory))
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • April 30, 2015: Uncertainty in climate change projections: the role of internal atmospheric circulation variability (abstract)
    Clara Deser (NCAR)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • May 6, 2015: TBA
    Pu Lin (AOS/GFDL)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • May 7, 2015: Local and remote climate response to aerosol forcing (abstract)
    Jean-Francois Lamarque (National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • May 14, 2015: Impacts of Rossby Wave Breaking on Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity (abstract)
    Zhou Wang (U of Illinois)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • May 20, 2015: Local and remote climate effects of regional aerosol emissions (abstract)
    Apostolos Voulgarakis (Imperial College)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • May 21, 2015: TBA
    Steve Krueger (University of Utah)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • June 10, 2015: NOAA Public Access to Research Results: A discussion of changing NOAA Requirements (abstract)
    Ronald Stouffer
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room

More events & seminars...