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GFDL Research Highlights

February 15th, 2024 - Impacts of the North Atlantic biases on the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere over the extratropical North Pacific

The interplay between the ocean and atmosphere plays a crucial role in shaping weather patterns and temperatures around the world. Yet, the winter upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UTLS) temperature/vertical motion response over the extratropical North Pacific induced by North Atlantic changes is not well understood. Using GFDL’s high-resolution climate model CM2.5, the authors corrected the North Atlantic Ocean circulation biases to unravel the wintertime atmospheric impacts. Read More…

February 8th, 2024 - Ocean biogeochemical fingerprints of fast-sinking tunicate and fish detritus

Marine ecosystems play a critical role in the global carbon cycle through the food web regulation of air-sea carbon fluxes and the transfer of particulate matter from the upper oceans to depth. Recent evidence has suggested that the detritus from fishes and gelatinous zooplankton, specifically the pelagic tunicates such as salps and pyrosomes, may have a disproportionate impact on the ocean’s biological pump due to them sinking approximately ten times faster than bulk detritus. These fluxes result in increased sequestration of particulate carbon and nutrients into the deep oceans, but their impact on biogeochemical cycles at depth is poorly understood. Read More…

December 22nd, 2023 - The Importance of Dynamic Iron Deposition in Projecting Climate Change Impacts on Pacific Ocean Biogeochemistry

Projections of future nutrient limitation and primary production have implications for fisheries management. The authors used GFDL’s Earth system model, ESM4.1, to explore climate-driven changes in the deposition of dust and iron from the atmosphere to the ocean under a range of climate change scenarios, in an attempt to understand where the “fish food” is going to be and why. Read More…

December 14th, 2023 - Greenhouse gas forcing and climate feedback signatures identified in hyperspectral infrared satellite observations

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities trap heat (radiative forcing) and cause global warming. This warming is amplified or diminished by feedbacks in the climate system. We had limited direct observations of global greenhouse gas forcing and feedbacks, despite the fact that they are the primary causes of climate change. While it has long been known that resolving the thermal spectrum at different wavelengths can help us to better separate the signals due to forcings and feedbacks,  observing  this has been elusive because of irregular, uncalibrated, or limited measurements. However, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua Satellite has recently provided such data (2003-2021). Read More…

December 1st, 2023 - Skillful multiyear to decadal predictions of sea level in the North Atlantic Ocean and U.S. East Coast

The occurrence of exceptionally high sea levels can cause severe coastal flooding and inundation, threatening lives and infrastructure in the coastal regions. High sea level also alters the coastal environment, moving barrier islands and cutting channels through them, impacting forests and crops, inundating the coastline with salt water, and damaging habitats essential to support wildlife. Read More…

November 17th, 2023 - Anthropogenic forcing changes coastal tropical cyclone frequency

Anthropogenic activities have been affecting our climate since the industrial revolution. The effect of anthropogenic climate change on tropical cyclones (TCs) is of particular concern because of their catastrophic damage at landfall and their relatively frequent occurrence compared to other natural hazards. However, attributing a regionally observed change in tropical cyclone frequency (TCF) to anthropogenic climate change is notoriously challenging for two main reasons.  First, climate internal variability can considerably modulate regional TC activities. Second, reliable TC observations are only available since the satellite era, and therefore, not long enough to separate the potential effect of anthropogenic climate change from climate internal variability. Read More…

September 5th, 2023 - Coherent Mechanistic Patterns of Tropical Land Hydroclimate Change

Accurate predictions of future changes in hydroclimate over land, in particular the magnitude and frequency of extreme heat, extreme rainfall, and droughts are of paramount importance for society. Gaps in our process-level understanding of land-atmosphere interactions remain, in particular with respect to the connection between changes in different types of extremes; and the connection between changes in local land-atmosphere interactions with the global-scale response of the hydrological cycle to climate forcings. The authors introduce a novel method that preserves the mechanistic local, daily-mean time scale understanding while substantially reducing the dimensionality of the global, time-varying problem in order to provide an integrated, big-picture perspective. Read More…

August 23rd, 2023 - Abrupt loss and uncertain recovery from fires of Amazon forests under low climate mitigation scenarios

Tropical forests buffer climate change impacts by acting as a major sink for anthropogenic carbon emissions, which is essential to slowing down the buildup of atmospheric CO2. However, the response of tropical forests to more frequent weather extremes and long-recovery disturbances like fires remains uncertain. Analyses of field data and ecological theory raise concerns about the possibility of the Amazon crossing a tipping point, leading to catastrophic tropical forest loss. In contrast, climate models consistently project an enhanced tropical sink. Read More…

August 4th, 2023 - Regulating finescale resolved convection in high-resolution models for better hurricane track prediction

Hurricanes, also known as tropical cyclones (TC), are the costliest weather disasters in the U.S. and accurate hurricane track and intensity forecasts are crucial for early preparation. High-resolution models (approximately 3 km grid spacing or finer) covering a large domain are emerging as powerful tools for hurricane prediction. However, while the use of high resolution helps improve hurricane intensity prediction, it can also make the model more prone to develop errors in the prediction of steering flow and hurricane tracks – due to the possible impact of prevalent small-scale features resolved by the model. This study suggests that regulating small-scale convection activity in a high-resolution model can significantly improve hurricane track predictions at days 4 and 5. Read More…

May 24th, 2023 - A Mechanistic Sea Spray Generation Function Based on the Sea State and the Physics of Bubble Bursting

Bubbles bursting at the ocean surface are an important source of sea spray aerosols. They contribute to atmospheric aerosols and play a crucial role in radiative and cloud processes. Uncertainties related to the large range of scales involved, and the complexity of the processes, leads to open questions about the dependencies on wind speed, ocean wave properties and water temperature. Read More…

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