GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

GFDL Research Highlights

December 3rd, 2018 - Natural variability of Southern Ocean convection as a driver of observed climate trends

Observations show that Arctic sea ice is rapidly declining, but observations also clearly show an expansion of Southern Ocean (SO) sea ice extent during the satellite era (1979 to the present). This modest increase is consistent with an observed SO cooling trend. The sea surface temperature (SST) and sea ice concentration (SIC) trends are not homogeneous in space, with opposing signs in the Amundsen-Bellingshausen Seas versus the Ross and Weddell Seas. Read More…

November 19th, 2018 - Change in future climate due to Antarctic ice melt

Ice sheet melt is a known neglected forcing in climate model simulations, contributing to uncertainties in climate projections. This is the first study to directly implement estimates of Antarctic ice sheet melt in a climate simulation, showing the actual change in climate projections due to the freshwater input. The authors used a large ensemble to confidently separate the freshwater signal from natural variability and show when we can expect these freshwater-induced effects to become significant. Read More…

April 24th, 2018 - Underestimated AMOC variability and implications for AMV and predictability in CMIP models

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has profound impacts on various climate phenomena. Using both observations and simulations from multiple models of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, the authors estimated the amplitude of low-frequency AMOC variability in observations, compared it with those in model simulations, and examined the effects of low-frequency AMOC variability on the linkage between AMOC and Atlantic multidecadal variability (AMV). Read More…

March 20th, 2018 - Robustness of Anthropogenically Forced Decadal Precipitation Changes Projected for the 21st Century

Precipitation is characterized by substantial natural variability, including on regional and decadal scales. This relatively large variability poses a grand challenge in assessing the significance of anthropogenically forced precipitation changes. The authors use multiple large ensembles of climate change experiments to evaluate whether, on regional scales, anthropogenic changes in decadal precipitation mean state (i.e., ensemble average) are distinguishable – i.e., outside the range expected from natural variability. Read More…

February 7th, 2018 - On the seasonal prediction of the western United States El Niño precipitation pattern during the 2015/16 winter

There has been an increasing call for better seasonal precipitation prediction systems to support water resource management, particularly over regions like the western United States, where a multi-year drought persisted from 2012-2016. This research addresses the challenge of building a better prediction system by exploring the extent to which this past winter’s western U.S. precipitation anomalies may have been predictable, using experimental retrospective forecasts with GFDL’s Forecast-Oriented Low Resolution (FLOR) model. Read More…

January 31st, 2018 - The Role of Atlantic Overturning Circulation in the Recent Decline of Atlantic Major Hurricane Frequency

Observed Atlantic major hurricane frequency has exhibited pronounced multidecadal variability since the 1940s. However, the cause of this variability is debated. This study explores the causes of the recent decline of Atlantic major hurricane frequency over the period 2005-2015, using various observational datasets and modeling results from a 500-year control simulation of a fully coupled earth system model, GFDL’s ESM2G. Read More…

January 22nd, 2018 - Potential for Western United States Seasonal Snowpack Prediction

The majority of annual precipitation in the Western United States accumulates between October and April, falling as snow in the mountains. As a result, snow accumulation forms mountain snowpack, peaking in early spring and melting into the summer, dominating runoff and influencing lower elevation streamflow. Variations in snowpack influence warm season water supply, wildfire risk, ecology, and industries like agriculture dependent on snow and downstream water availability. Read More…

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