GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

GFDL Research Highlights

August 8th, 2017 - On the Persistence and Coherence of Subpolar Sea Surface Temperature and Salinity Anomalies Associated with the Atlantic Multidecadal Variability

The low frequency variability in the North Atlantic Ocean temperature has been shown to exhibit various important climate impacts at global and regional scales. Understanding the physical mechanism for this low frequency variability in the North Atlantic Ocean temperature is crucial for achieving successful future predictions of North Atlantic ocean temperature and the associated climate impacts. Read More…

March 1st, 2017 - US surface ozone trends and extremes from 1980 to 2014: Quantifying the roles of rising Asian emissions, domestic controls, wildfires, and climate

Within the United States, ground-level ozone has been recognized since the 1940s and 1950s as an air pollutant that is detrimental to public health. Ground-level ozone responds to varying global-to-regional precursor emissions and climate, with implications for designing effective U.S. air quality control policies under the lowered national air quality standard (70 ppb set in 2015). This study examines these conjoined processes with observations and global chemistry-climate model hindcasts (GFDL-AM3) over the course of 35 years, from 1980 to 2014. Read More…

January 23rd, 2017 - Reconciling Ocean Productivity and Fisheries Yields

The authors explore the complex relationship between phytoplankton production and fish, using recent critical advances in our knowledge of global patterns in fish catch and fishing effort, as well as the plankton food webs that connect phytoplankton and fish. A high-resolution global earth system model, developed at GFDL, was used to assess the potential magnitude of future changes in fish yield under climate change. This model has ten times the resolution of a typical climate model and includes comprehensive plankton dynamics. Read More…

September 5th, 2016 - Exploring the role of movement in determining the global distribution of marine biomass using a coupled hydrodynamic – size-based ecosystem model

Modeling the dynamics of marine populations at a global scale – from phytoplankton to fish – is necessary in order to quantify how climate change and other broad-scale anthropogenic actions affect the supply of marine-based food. In this study, the abundance and distribution of fish biomass in the ocean is estimated, by coupling a size-based fish food web model to retrospective ocean physics and biogeochemistry simulations covering the past 60 years. The authors focused on the spatial distribution of biomass, identifying highly productive regions – shelf seas, western boundary currents and major upwelling zones. Read More…

June 20th, 2016 - The North Atlantic Oscillation as a driving force for observed rapid Arctic sea ice change, hemispheric warming, and Atlantic tropical cyclone variability

In order to better understand the factors governing observed climate variability and change, it is critical to better understand the mechanisms contributing to natural climate variability, particularly on decadal and longer time scales. The ocean is thought to play a critical role in such variability. This study examined factors that influence decadal and longer time-scale variability of the Atlantic Ocean, and its subsequent influence on the overall climate system. Read More…

April 13th, 2016 - U.S. regional tornado outbreaks and their links to spring ENSO phases and North Atlantic SST variability

Tornado outbreaks are one of nature’s most destructive forces. This study breaks new ground on a potential basis for seasonal predictability of tornado outbreak probability over the U.S. in boreal spring. The goal of the study was to explore the scientific basis for predictions of outbreaks a month or more in advance. Currently, the risk of regional tornado outbreaks is predictable only about a week ahead. Read More…

February 22nd, 2016 - Anthropogenic climate change drives shift and shuffle in North Atlantic phytoplankton communities

This study estimates the impact of projected anthropogenic climate change over the next century on marine phytoplankton communities, and increases our understanding of the environmental drivers of ecological change. The change in biogeography for North Atlantic phytoplankton taxa in response to anthropogenic climate change is quantified, and the primary physical drivers of the projected changes are diagnosed. These findings indicate that over the course of the next century, climate change may significantly modify phytoplankton assemblages throughout the North Atlantic, and may shift individual species ranges considerably, on a magnitude of the exclusive economic zones for the marine territory of many countries. Read More…

February 1st, 2016 - Enhanced Atlantic Sea Level Rise Relative to the Pacific Under High Carbon Emission Rates

Recent observational studies indicate that more than 90% of the anthropogenically-generated heat anomaly generated between 1971 and 2010 has gone into warming the oceans. Furthermore, the Atlantic basin is warming faster than the Pacific. This study demonstrates that basin scale differences in heat uptake and sea level rise are a forced response from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and the inter-basin differences vary with emission rate (see figure). Weaker overturning circulations in the Atlantic in the higher emission scenarios (i.e. > 5 GtC yr-1) make the ocean interior both warmer and less ventilated and are associated with enhanced Atlantic sea level rise, relative to the Pacific. The basin scale differences in sea level rise that vary with emission rate are relevant to climate adaptation efforts because they illustrate the relative vulnerability of the Atlantic to high emission rates and demonstrate that global average metrics of sea level rise could become less representative of regional scale changes. Read More…

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