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Research Highlight

Climate change is probably increasing the intensity of tropical cyclones

March 30, 2021 – This ScienceBrief presents a summary of the state of the science on tropical cyclones (tropical storms, hurricanes, and typhoons) and climate change. The authors assessed more than 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles, with a focus on articles describing observations of, or projected future changes to, the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones (TCs) globally or in key regions, as well as changes in tropical cyclone-related rainfall and storm surge.

Women’s History Month

How a passion for weather turned Sonya Legg into an “accidental oceanographer”

Sonya Legg
March 24, 2021 – Sonya Legg is a physical oceanographer (someone who investigates the physics and dynamics of the ocean) working in the Ocean and Cryosphere Division at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) through the Cooperative Institute for Modeling the Earth System (CIMES), hosted at Princeton University. Her research focuses on small-scale mixing processes in the ocean and their role in climate. Together with her NOAA colleagues, she is developing better representations of ocean mixing for climate models.


Stephen Griffies Named Editor in Chief of the Journal of Advances in Modeling the Earth System

Stephen Griffies
March 17, 2021 – Stephen Griffies, senior scientist at Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, has been named Editor in Chief of the Journal of Advances in Modeling the Earth System (JAMES). As Editor, Dr. Griffies plans to “ensure that JAMES deliberately and thoughtfully embraces earth system modeling from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the atmosphere.” He has been an editor in charge of the ocean and cryosphere section for JAMES since 2018, and he is also a lecturer and mentor in Princeton University’s graduate Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences program.

Research Highlight

Assessing the influence of COVID-19 on Earth’s radiative balance

February 19, 2021 – The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to a worldwide reduction in aerosol emissions. Anecdotal effects on air quality and visibility were widely reported. Less known are the impacts on the planetary energy balance, and by extension, on weather and climate. By separating the impacts from meteorology and emissions with model simulations, the authors found that about one‐third of the clear‐sky anomalies can be attributed to pandemic‐related emission reductions, and the rest to weather variability and long‐term emission trends.


GFDL’s New Modeling System for Seasonal Predictions

January 28, 2021 – GFDL’s newly developed SPEAR modeling system will be used to produce real-time experimental seasonal predictions each month. These are used by NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) in support of operational forecasts, seasonal outlooks, and scientific research. Predictions made with SPEAR have improved skill for many aspects of the Earth’s climate system, including the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), precipitation and temperature over North America, and Arctic sea ice.

Research Highlight

Increasing risk of another Cape Town’s Day Zero drought in twenty-first century

December 22, 2020 – Three consecutive dry winters (2015-2017) in southwestern South Africa (SSA) resulted in the Cape Town “Day Zero” drought in early 2018. Combined with management practices and infrastructure shortcomings, the drought caused one of the most serious water crises ever experienced in any heavily populated metropolitan area, with extensive economic impacts. The authors of this study applied a high-resolution (0.5×0.5◦) large ensemble, generated from the newly developed Seamless System for Prediction and EArth System Research (SPEAR) global climate model developed at GFDL, to investigate regional hydroclimatic risk.

Research Highlight

Ocean Biogeochemistry in GFDL’s Earth System Model 4.1 and its Response to Increasing Atmospheric CO2

December 15, 2020 – The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s newest Earth System Model, ESM4.1, was developed to study the past, present, and future evolution of the Earth system under scenarios for natural and anthropogenic drivers of earth system change, including greenhouse gases and aerosols. The response of the ocean’s vast carbon and heat reservoirs to accumulating greenhouse gases greatly reduces their atmospheric and terrestrial impacts, but also puts ocean environments and the marine resources they support at risk.


GFDL Celebrates 6 Researchers on Highly Cited Researchers 2020 List

December 11, 2020 – Once again, GFDL is home to six scientists who were recognized on the Web of Science Group’s 2020 list of “Highly Cited Researchers”. The highly anticipated annual list identifies researchers who demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. This determination is based on papers published and cited during 2009-2019 and ranked in the top 1% by citations. Scientific papers are categorized into 21 fields of science.

Research Highlight

The GFDL Global Atmospheric Chemistry-Climate Model AM4.1: Model Description and Simulation Characteristics

December 10, 2020 – The atmospheric model documented in this study, AM4.1, marks the culmination of GFDL’s 4th-generation model development effort that included comprehensive revisions of atmospheric dynamics, physics, and chemistry, and biogeochemical coupling to land and ocean. These efforts were merged into a single atmospheric configuration in support of NOAA’s first coupled carbon-chemistry-climate Earth system model (ESM4.1) with state-of-the-art representation of each component, along with comprehensive interactions between components.


Tom Knutson Elected AGU Fellow

November 18, 2020 – The American Geophysical Union (AGU) announced the election of Tom Knutson as an AGU Fellow. AGU Fellows are elected each year for their visionary leadership and scientific excellence. This designation is conferred upon less than 0.1% of all AGU members in any given year, as a tribute for those who have made exceptional scientific contributions.

Research Highlight

The GFDL Earth System Model version 4.1 (GFDL-ESM4.1): Model description and simulation characteristics

November 12, 2020 – The Earth system model documented in this study, ESM4.1, marks the culmination of GFDL’s 4th generation model development effort that included comprehensive revisions of atmospheric dynamics, physics and chemistry, ocean physics, biogeochemistry and ecosystems, sea ice, and land physics, biogeochemistry and ecosystems.

Research Highlight

GFDL SHiELD: A Unified System for Weather-to-Seasonal Prediction

October 7, 2020 – At many weather forecasting centers, different computer weather models are run for different applications. In the U.S., there are separate models for short-range, long-range, seasonal, and hurricane forecasting. Each specialized model is designed by different experts to get the best results. However, having separate models multiplies the effort needed to maintain and upgrade each model, and makes it difficult to move improvements from one model to another.