GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory


Contacts, for more information:

Tom Delworth

Isaac Held

P.C.D. Milly
Related Areas of Research:

Weather and Climate Extremes

Droughts can have extreme impacts on agriculture and other human activities. How will ongoing climate change affect drought risks? These and other crucial water resource issues are being addressed by GFDL scientists in collaboration with scientists from the United States Geological Survey and Princeton University.

GFDL Research

GFDL scientists have made a number of important contributions to the science of drought in a changing climate. These include early work by Manabe et al., highlighting the enhanced drought risk midlatitude summer climates from greenhouse warming; important studies on causes of the Sahel drought of the 1970s and 80s, southwest Australian rainfall decline, recent North American drought, impacts of aerosols on regional drought risk; and studies clarifying the roles of precipitation changes vs. temperature changes in causing droughts.

Drought is commonly driven by a shortage of precipitation, but the practical manifestations of drought on land are complex and multi-faceted. With the land model LM3, GFDL climate models now have the potential to represent drought response in terms not only of snow-water equivalent and soil moisture, but also of water-table depth, streamflow, lake levels, and plant water stress.

Featured Results

Related Links


  • Knutson, T. R., and F. Zeng,, 2018: Model assessment of observed precipitation trends over land regions: detectable human influences and possible low bias in model trends. Journal of Climate. DOI:10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0672.1.
  • Kapnick, S. B., X.Yang, G. A. Vecchi, T. L. Delworth, R. G. Gudgel, S. Maleshev, P. C. D. Milly, E. Shevliakova, S. D. Underwood, and S A Margulis, 2018: Potential for western US seasonal snowpack prediction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(6), DOI:10.1073/pnas.1716760115 .
  • Zhang, H., and T. L. Delworth, 2018: Detectability of decadal anthropogenic hydroclimate changes over North America. Journal of Climate, 31(7), DOI:10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0366.1 .
  • Zhang, H., and T. L. Delworth, 2018: Robustness of anthropogenically forced decadal precipitation changes projected for the 21st century. Nature Communications, 9, 1150, DOI:10.1038/s41467-018-03611-3 .
  • Findell, K. L., A. Berg, P. Gentine, J. P. Krasting, B. R. Lintner, S. Malyshev, J. A. Santanello, and E. Shevliakova, 2017: The impact of anthropogenic land use and landcover change on regional climate extremes. Nature Communications, 8, 989, DOI:10.1038/s41467-017-01038-w .
  • Pu, B., and P. Ginoux, 2017: Projection of American dustiness in the late 21st century due to climate change. Scientific Reports, 7, 5553, DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05431-9 .
  • Zhang, H., T. L Delworth, F. Zeng, G. A Vecchi, K. Paffendorf, and L. Jia, 2016: Detection, Attribution and Projection of Regional Rainfall Changes on (Multi-) Decadal Time Scales: A Focus on Southeastern South America. Journal of Climate, 29(23), DOI:10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0287.1 .
  • Milly, P C., and Krista A Dunne, 2016: Potential evapotranspiration and continental drying. Nature Climate Change. DOI:10.1038/nclimate3046.
  • Berg, A., K. Findell, B. Lintner, A. Giannini, S. Seneviratne, B. van den Hurk, R. Lorenz, A. Pitman, S. Hagemann, A. Meier, F. Cheruy, A. Ducharne, S. Maleyshev, and P.C.D. Milly, 2016: Land-atmosphere feedbacks amplify aridity increase over land under global warming. Nature Clim. Change, DOI:10.1038/NCLIMATE3029.
  • Delworth, T.L., F. Zeng, A. Rosati, G. Vecchi, and A. Wittenberg, 2015: A link between the hiatus in global warming and North American drought. Journal of Climate. DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00616.1
  • Jia, L., et al., 2015: Improved Seasonal Prediction of Temperature and Precipitation over Land in a High-Resolution GFDL Climate Model. J. Climate, 28, 2044-2062. DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00112.1
  • Bollasina, M., Y. Ming, V. Ramaswamy, M. D. Schwarzkopf, and V. Naik, 2014: Contribution of Local and Remote Anthropogenic Aerosols to the 20th century Weakening of the South Asian Monsoon. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(2), DOI:10.1002/2013GL058183.
  • Delworth, T.L. and F. Zeng, 2014: Regional rainfall decline in Australia attributed to anthropogenic greenhouse gases and ozone levels.  Nature Geoscience. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2201.
  • Krishnamurthy, L., and V Krishnamurthy, 2014: Decadal scale oscillations and trend in the Indian monsoon rainfall. Climate Dynamics, 43(1-2), DOI:10.1007/s00382-013-1870-1.
  • Maloney, E, et al., and B. Wyman and M. Zhao, 2014: North American Climate in CMIP5 Experiments: Part III: Assessment of 21st Century Projections. Journal of Climate, 27(6), DOI:10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00273.1.
  • Kapnick, S B., and Thomas L Delworth, 2013: Controls of Global Snow Under a Changed Climate. Journal of Climate, 26(15), DOI:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00528.1.
  • Bollasina, Massimo, Yi Ming, and V Ramaswamy, 2011: Anthropogenic aerosols and the weakening of the South
    Asian summer monsoon. Science, 334(6055), DOI:10.1126/science.1204994. Milly, P C., and Krista A Dunne, 2011: On the
    hydrologic adjustment of climate-model projections: The potential pitfall of potential evapotranspiration. Earth Interactions, 15(1), DOI:10.1175/2010EI363.1.
  • Findell, Kirsten L., and Thomas L Delworth, 2010: Impact of common sea surface temperature anomalies on global drought and pluvial frequency. Journal of Climate, 23(3), DOI:10.1175/2009JCLI3153.1.
  • Seager, R., N. Naik and G.A. Vecchi (2010): Thermodynamic and dynamic mechanisms for large-scale changes in the
    hydrological cycle in response to global warming. J. Climate, 23(17), 4670-4687 DOI:10.1175/2010JCLI3655.1
  • Milly, P C., J Betancourt, M Falkenmark, R M Hirsch, Z W Kundzewicz, D Lettenmaier, and R J Stouffer, 2008: Stationarity is dead: Whither water management? Science, 319(5863), DOI:10.1126/science.1151915.
  • Held, I.M., T. L. Delworth, J. Lu, K. L. Findell, and T. R. Knutson, 2005: Simulation of Sahel drought in the 20th and 21st centuries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(50), DOI:10.1073/pnas.0509057102.