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

  • September 29, 2014 Seasonal- and annual-mean precipitation extremes occurring during 2013: A U.S. focused analysis - Extreme seasonal/annual precipitation, defined here as ranking first, second, or third highest or lowest in the record of at least 100 years, occurred in several continental U.S. regions during 2013. The authors of this study used CMIP5 models to simulate internal climate variability and the response to historical anthropogenic and natural forcings, for the Northern Tier and the Upper Midwest regions of the U.S. This study suggests that, for these two regions, extreme annual or seasonal positive precipitation anomalies over the U.S. were at least partly attributable to a combination of anthropogenic and natural forcing. Read more
  • September 17, 2014 Retrieval of Tropical Storm Statistics by Combining Data with a High-Resolution Coupled Model - In order to produce better seasonal-to-interannual climate predictions, GFDL scientists explored improvements in the method of initializing a high-resolution coupled model. Traditionally, when observations are assimilated into a high-resolution coupled model, small-scale cyclones tend to get filtered out in the process of making corrections to the large-scale background. GFDL scientists pioneered a method of processing the large-scale background and the small-scale perturbations separately in a cyclone-permitting model. Read more
  • August 22, 2014 Predicting a decadal shift in North Atlantic climate variability using the GFDL forecast system - The goals of this research were to assess the role of AMOC in global climate and identify the predictability of the associated climate impacts. Decadal prediction experiments were conducted as part of CMIP5 using a prototype GFDL-CM2.1 forecast system. The abrupt warming of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre (SPG), observed in the mid-1990s, was used as a case study to evaluate the forecast capabilities of the model, and to better understand the reasons for the observed changes. Read more
  • August 13, 2014 Seasonal Forecasting of Regional Tropical Cyclone Activity - Tropical cyclones (TCs, which include hurricanes and typhoons) are a major climate hazard across the Northern Hemisphere, and have exhibited variability and change on year-to-year timescales. Understanding and predicting future year-to-year TC activity is central to NOAA's mission and highly relevant to society. Of particular relevance for decision support is predicting seasonal activity on regional spatial scales (scales smaller than the entire basin) – a goal that has remained elusive. Read more

Read more GFDL Research Highlights

Events & Seminars

  • October 1, 2014: Amplification of Ocean Productivity Trends in a Changing Climate (abstract)
    Charlie Stock (GFDL)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • October 8, 2014: Characterizing key processes controlling variability in the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere (abstract)
    Lee Murray (Columbia - NY)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • October 9, 2014: The role of the stratosphere in tropospheric circulation (abstract)
    Ted Shepherd (University of Reading)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • October 16, 2014: TBA
    Josefino Comiso (NASA/GSFC Greenbelt, MD)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • October 22, 2014: TBA
    David Neelin (UCLA)
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • October 23, 2014: tba (abstract)
    Brian Mapes (U of Miami)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • October 30, 2014: TBA
    Ka-Kit Tung (U of Washington)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room
  • November 13, 2014: TBA
    Dr. Abbot (U of Chicago)
    Time: 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Location: Smagorinsky Seminar Room

More events & seminars...