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Research Highlight

Projected Changes in South Asian Monsoon Low-pressure Systems

July 24, 2020 – Monsoon low-pressure systems (MLPSs) are the primary rain-producing synoptic-scale systems over the Indian subcontinent, and are estimated to be responsible for more than half of the annual precipitation in agrarian North and Central India. Changes in the characteristics of MLPSs, whether natural or forced, have far-reaching socio-economic impacts. Understanding future changes in MLPSs and associated rainfall is a necessary step toward projecting flood or drought risks in a warmer climate.


Improving weather and climate modeling by studying the impact of the COVID-19-related decline in emissions of air pollutants

June 9, 2020 – Restrictions on travel and social interactions implemented to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a reduced number of on-road vehicles and industrial production, leading to a significant decline in emissions of air pollutants. The resulting improvements in air quality and visibility have been widely reported in the media.

Research Highlight

A mechanism for the Arctic sea ice spring predictability barrier

June 2, 2020 – Observations over the past 40 years have documented a significant decline in Arctic sea-ice extent and thickness. These rapid changes and their implications for Northern communities, shipping industries, wildlife, fisheries, and natural resource industries have created an emerging operational need for regional summer sea-ice predictions. How far in advance can accurate predictions of regional summer sea ice be made? Recent work has shown evidence for an Arctic sea ice spring predictability barrier, which may fundamentally limit the accuracy of predictions made before May. However, the physical mechanism for this barrier has remained elusive.

Research Highlight

Detected Climatic Change in Global Distribution of Tropical Cyclones

May 4, 2020 – Although global mean temperature has been rising since the mid-twentieth century and can be attributed to increases in emissions of greenhouse gasses, the annual number of global tropical cyclones (TCs) has remained steady at around 86 since 1980. The limited length of observed TC data and the effect of multi-decadal variability have made it challenging to detect trends in TC activity on a global scale. There is a distinct spatial pattern to the trends in TC frequency of occurrence at a global scale since 1980. Significant decreases in the frequency of occurrence in the South Indian Ocean, as well as the western North Pacific, can be seen.

Research Highlight

Tropical Cyclone Motion in a Changing Climate

April 22, 2020 – There is intense public and scientific interest in the question of whether slowly moving and highly destructive hurricanes, such as Harvey (2017), Florence (2018), and Dorian (2019), could become much more common with climate change. Using high-resolution large ensemble simulations, the authors investigated whether future anthropogenic warming could lead to a significant slowing of hurricane motion, and whether the observed trends of hurricane motion during past decades could be attributed to anthropogenic forcing.

Research Highlight

Vegetation feedbacks during drought exacerbate ozone air pollution extremes in Europe

April 20, 2020 – Ground-level ozone exposure harms human and plant health, especially on hot summer days when pollution from cars and power plants fuels ozone formation. Due to regulatory changes, emissions of ozone precursors have been reduced markedly in Europe, yet ozone pollution episodes have not decreased satisfactorily in recent decades. The authors show that slow progress towards improving ozone air quality in Europe can be partly explained by declining rates of ozone removal by water-stressed vegetation in response to climate warming.

Research Highlight

SPEAR – The Next Generation GFDL Modeling System for Seasonal to Multidecadal Prediction and Projection

April 10, 2020 – The models in use at GFDL for seasonal-to-decadal prediction have performed very well but are built off rather old model physics and other components. A multi-year effort was undertaken to build a next-generation seasonal-to-decadal prediction system that took advantage of many recent modeling advancements.


Where engineering meets artistry: A day in the life of a marine ecosystem modeler

Jessica Luo

March 12, 2020 – This is what they never tell you in school — that scientific research is fundamentally the discovery of the unknown, and that the winding path to discovery is inevitably filled with dead-ends and potholes. At times, it feels like there is more failure than success in our day-to-day work. In our jobs as research scientists, the ability to manage, communicate, and learn from failure is essential.


Storm-induced sea level spikes expected to increase on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts

Flooded town

February 13, 2020 – Using a new powerful NOAA global climate model, NOAA and partner researchers show that big storm-induced spikes in sea levels will increase in the future from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic coast as warming progresses, but will be driven by differing forces. Stronger hurricanes will be the primary driver for storm surge spikes along the Gulf Coast while overall rising sea levels will lead to more storm surges along the East Coast, according to new research appearing in the Journal of Climate.


GFDL Scientist Recognized with International Prize for Model Development

Baoqiang Xiang

December 23, 2019 – GFDL scientist Baoqiang Xiang has been awarded the International Prize for Model Development from the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP). Dr. Xiang is being recognized for his skill in developing multiple modeling systems, and in particular for leading the development of GFDL’s next generation coupled atmosphere-ocean models for prediction on the challenging seasonal-to-subseasonal timescale.


Six GFDL Scientists Among World’s Most Influential Scholars

December 19, 2019 – Six GFDL scientists were recognized on the Web of Science Group’s 2019 list of “Highly Cited Researchers“. This index identifies the most influential scientists, who are authors of the papers that were most frequently cited by their peers over the last decade.