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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

Sea Level Pressure Trends: Model-based Assessment of Detection, Attribution, and Consistency with CMIP5 Historical Simulations

November 6, 2020 – With anthropogenic climate change becoming evident, it is imperative to provide reliable scientific information to society on causes of emerging trends. Sea level pressure (SLP) is a key variable, relevant for impacts and extremes (e.g., steering flows for storms, storm track changes), for which trends and other changes must be monitored and understood.

Research Highlight

Estuarine forecasts at daily weather to subseasonal time scales

October 21, 2020 – Estuary and coastal ocean forecasts based on predictions of temperature, salinity, currents, and storm surge have been shown to be able to protect lives and property from storm surge, assist search and rescue operations, and protect public health. These forecasts enable predictions of harmful algal blooms and the dispersion of oil spills. Many estuaries are also home to ecologically and economically important ecosystems and fisheries, and forecasts may also be useful for improving the management of fisheries and locating ideal fishing spots.

Research Highlight

Simulations of Atmospheric Rivers, Their Variability and Response to Global Warming Using GFDL’s New High-Resolution General Circulation Model

October 13, 2020 – The authors describe a systematic evaluation of GFDL’s new 50km high-resolution version of the AM4 atmospheric model, for its ability to simulate atmospheric river (AR) characteristics including climatology, variability and future change. This study is relevant for assessing the model’s ability to simulate and predict weather and climate extremes such as flood, drought and extreme winds.

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.