GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Continental Water, Climate, and Earth-System Dynamics

the global water cycle and its ties to
other earth-system processes

Paul Christopher Damian PCD Milly P.C.D. (“Chris”) Milly, Project Chief

Continental water is a central actor in the dynamics of the earth system. Water on land regulates heating and moistening of the atmosphere, playing an important role in the control of Earth’s climate. Water availability also strongly affects the global distribution of human development and economic activity, as well as plant and animal life. Fluctuations in water storage on the continents have subtle but important effects on sea level, earth deformation, and gravity.

The intimate relation among continental water and other parts of the earth system presents numerous opportunities for synergy among the scientific disciplines of global hydrology, climate dynamics, global ecology, and geophysics. From a practical standpoint, such opportunities include new avenues for estimation of sensitivities of water-resource availability and streamflow characteristics to global variability and change.

This project was established by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct collaborative research with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the global water cycle and the interaction between global climate and continental water. The project also addresses climate-water-ecosystem interactions, in partnership with Princeton University, and global hydrospheric effects on other earth processes. The project is located at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), on the Princeton University Forrestal Campus, in Princeton, New Jersey, and at the USGS National Center in Reston, Virginia.