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Research Highlight

Substantial global influence of anthropogenic aerosols on tropical cyclones over the past 40 years

May 11, 2022 – Research reveals how pollution control measures in Europe and the United States over the past 40 years led to significantly decreased anthropogenic aerosols. During the same time period, economic and industrial growth in South and East Asia led to increased anthropogenic aerosols in those regions. The impact of these changes suggests effects on both the frequency of global tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons), as well as a shift in the global wind circulation.

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Earth Day

Research Highlight

Regional Sensitivity Patterns of Arctic Ocean Acidification Revealed with Machine Learning

April 19, 2022 – Ocean acidification (OA) is a consequence of the absorption of anthropogenic carbon emissions and it profoundly impacts marine life. Arctic regions are particularly vulnerable to rapid pH changes due to low ocean buffering capacities and high stratification. This research applied unsupervised machine learning methodology to simulations of surface Arctic acidification using two state-of-the-art coupled climate models. The authors identified four sub-regions whose boundaries are influenced by present-day and projected sea ice patterns. The regional boundaries are consistent between the models and across lower and higher carbon emissions scenarios.

Research Highlight

Patterns and frequency of projected future tropical cyclone genesis are governed by dynamic effects

April 12, 2022 – Potential future changes in the genesis frequency and distribution of tropical cyclones are important for society, yet uncertain. Confidence in model projections largely relies on whether we can physically explain why the models projected such changes. After analyzing climate simulations from multiple models, the authors find that future changes in the patterns and frequency of tropical cyclone genesis are largely governed by dynamic effects—that is, by human-induced changes in the atmospheric circulation. These large-scale circulation changes include decreases in the mid-level upward motion and lower-to-mid level cyclonic vorticity, and increases in vertical wind shear. Conversely, the thermodynamic effect—a result of increased maximum potential intensity in a warmer climate—would yield tropical cyclone genesis patterns that are opposite to the model projections.

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Women’s History Month Spotlight: Elena Shevliakova

March 28, 2022 – When Elena Shevliakova came to the United States from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, the scientific process provided a great source of positivity and empowerment. Shevliakova is a senior climate modeler of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey.

Research Highlight

S2S Prediction in GFDL SPEAR: MJO Diversity and Teleconnections

April 5, 2022 – Prediction on weather and seasonal timescales has become routine, but the “subseasonal” time scale of a few weeks has proven difficult. The Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO), a large complex of tropical thunderstorms, is the dominant subseasonal phenomenon over the tropics, and its prediction is critical for subseasonal prediction of tropical cyclones, atmospheric rivers, and other extreme events.

Research Highlight

Tripling of Western U.S. Particulate Pollution from Wildfires in a Warming Climate

March 29, 2022 – Record-setting fires in the western US over the last decade caused severe air pollution, loss of human life, and property damage. Enhanced drought and increased biomass in a warmer climate may fuel larger and more frequent wildfires in the coming decades.

Research Highlight

Are multi-seasonal forecasts of atmospheric rivers possible?

March 25, 2022 – In Western North America, 30% of the annual precipitation is determined by atmospheric rivers (ARs) that occur during less than 15% of the winter season. ARs are beneficial to water supply but can also produce extreme precipitation hazards when making landfall. Consequently, ARs exert significant socioeconomic impacts on this region. The authors used GFDL’s new SPEAR seasonal-to-decadal forecast system to produce multi-seasonal AR frequency forecasts with predictive skill at least 9 months in advance. Additional analysis explores the dominant predictability sources and challenges for multi-seasonal AR prediction.

Research Highlight

Oceanic and Atmospheric Drivers of Post-El-Niño Chlorophyll Rebound in the Equatorial Pacific

March 18, 2022 – In the tropical Pacific, year-to-year changes in chlorophyll, a proxy for the phytoplankton base of ocean food webs, is dominated by the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. El Niño, triggered by westerly wind anomalies and subsequent redistributions of upper ocean heat content, can sharply reduce the regional supply of nutrients, limiting phytoplankton growth.

Research Highlight

Global coastal ecosystem responses to a half-century increase in river nitrogen loads

March 16, 2022 – Coastal oceans host diverse ecosystems and serve as important habitats for marine fish species. Over the past century, anthropogenic activities have resulted in substantial climatic and land use changes that stress coastal environments, often leading to eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and deoxygenation. Rivers are a primary source of eutrophication, supplying an increasing amount of anthropogenic nitrogen to the coastal ocean over the past century. This study investigated coastal ecosystem responses to increasing river nitrogen loads for the period between 1959 and 2010.