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National Academy of Science honors NOAA’s Kirk Bryan for pioneering ocean and climate science

January 23, 2023 – Former NOAA scientist Kirk Bryan Jr., Ph.D, has been named winner of the 2023 National Academy of Science’s (NAS) Alexander Agassiz Medal for his pioneering work in oceanography and climate science.Bryan is widely recognized as the founder of numerical ocean modeling, and his work in the late 1960s at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New Jersey led to the first-of-its-kind general circulation climate model – combining both oceanic and atmospheric processes to bring forth insights into how the ocean and atmosphere interact with each other to influence climate. The model also predicted how changes in the natural factors that control climate such as ocean and atmospheric currents and temperature could lead to climate change. The model still stands today as a breakthrough of enormous importance for climate science and weather forecasting and was foundational to current ocean models. Earlier knowledge of the oceanic and atmospheric circulation, and their interactions, was based purely on theory and observation.

Research Highlight

The relative role of the subsurface Southern Ocean in driving negative Antarctic Sea ice extent anomalies in 2016–2021

January 19, 2023 – One of the most puzzling observed climate events in recent years was the dramatic decline in Antarctic Sea ice extent (SIE) in late 2016. It remains unclear to what extent this low sea ice extent can be attributed to changing ocean conditions. This SIE retreat persisted for several years after 2016, thus becoming a multiyear shift. In this study, the authors used a coupled climate model to reproduce these Antarctic SIE characteristics and found that the subsurface Southern Ocean (SO) plays a smaller role in the 2016 SIE extreme event than the atmosphere.


NOAA GFDL scientists make Highly Cited Researcher list for third year in a row

January 5, 2023 – NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory scientists saw their research extend far and wide in 2022, as five NOAA GFDL researchers were listed among the most highly-cited scientists in the world in December. NOAA GFDL scientists Tom Delworth, John Dunne, Stephen Griffies, Larry Horowitz, and Andrew Wittenberg were among 13 total NOAA scientists to make the Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher list for 2022. Every year, Clarivate, a company that provides analytics on scientific and academic research, compiles a list of scientists whose work is most frequently cited by their peers over the last decade. The distinction is important because it shows how influential a scientist’s work is — to be highly-cited is to know that one’s research is contributing greatly to the growing body of scientific knowledge. In 2022, about 7,000 of the world’s scientists across multiple fields made the list. This amounts to about 0.1% of global researchers.

Research Highlight

Reduction in Near-Surface Wind Speeds With Increasing CO2 May Worsen Winter Air Quality in the Indo-Gangetic Plain

December 30, 2022 – The Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP), stretching from Pakistan to Bangladesh across Northern India, and home to over 800 million people, experiences among the most elevated concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the world. High local anthropogenic emissions associated with waste and crop residue burning, transportation, industry, and power generation are the primary cause for the poor air quality in the region.


Ming Zhao’s Research and Model Development Recognized by AGU

November 21, 2022 – For Ming Zhao’s “growing research accomplishments and leadership in climate model development”, he has been recognized with the 2022 AGU Ascent Award. A Senior Physical Scientist at GFDL, Zhao conducts research focused on challenging topics with extensive societal and economic implications, while also being exceptionally skilled in the development of climate models.


Population aging, economic status may amplify air pollution health impacts

October 27, 2022 – Population aging and economic development setbacks may outpace the health benefits of less air pollution and slowed climate change, according to a Penn State-led researcher team examining air quality and the factors most likely to impact future premature deaths. The team used past and projected data to model five future scenarios estimating premature deaths due to air pollution and identified areas of the world that could be the most impacted.

Research Highlight

A Simple Conceptual Model for the Self-sustained Multidecadal AMOC Variability

August 29, 2022 – Multidecadal variability of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has been reconstructed by various proxies, simulated in climate models, and linked to multidecadal Arctic salinity variability. However, the mechanisms of the multidecadal AMOC variability and its two-way interaction with the Arctic salinity anomaly, as well as the factors affecting the periods and amplitudes of the multidecadal AMOC variability are not well understood from the theoretical perspective using simple conceptual models.

Research Highlight

A weakened AMOC may prolong greenhouse gas induced Mediterranean drying even with significant and rapid climate change mitigation

August 22, 2022 – Multiple large ensembles of climate simulations are used to explore 21st century climate response to greenhouse gases, including the response to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions after 2040. The authors explore the extent to which future climate changes could be reversed by reduced emissions of greenhouse gases. A decline in winter precipitation over the Mediterranean is a robust response to global warming across climate models, with significant impacts on agriculture and water resources.


Sarah Kapnick named NOAA chief scientist

Sarah KapnickJuly 7, 2022 – Former GFDL scientist Sarah Kapnick, Ph.D. was named NOAA’s chief scientist today. Kapnick will serve as the senior scientist for the agency, advancing policy and program direction for NOAA’s science and technology priorities. She is the third woman in NOAA’s history to be appointed to this role. An executive with 18 years of experience at the intersection of climate science and economics, Kapnick was most recently a managing director at J.P. Morgan in the role of senior climate scientist and sustainability strategist for asset and wealth management.

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.


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.