GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

GFDL Research Highlights

October 1st, 2010 - Multi-variate probability density functions with dynamics for cloud droplet activation in large-scale models

Multi-variate probability density functions with dynamics (MVD PDFs) have been incorporated into the single-column version of GFDL AM3 and extended to treat aerosol activation. MVD PDFs are unique in that they predict the joint distribution of temperature, water mass, and vertical velocity. The distribution of vertical velocity is then a natural link to aerosol activation. This paper presents the first results on the effects of aerosols and precipitation on cloud fraction and cloud liquid using the MVD PDFs and the first results on cloud droplet number concentrations obtained from the distributions of vertical velocity predicted by the MVD PDFs. Read More…

August 18th, 2010 - Simulations of Underwater Plumes of Dissolved Oil in the Gulf of Mexico

A simple model of the temperature-dependent biological decay of dissolved oil is embedded in an ocean climate model and used to simulate underwater plumes of dissolved and suspended oil originating from a point source in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with an upper-bound supply rate estimated from the contemporary analysis of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. The behavior of plumes at different depths is found to be determined by the combination of sheared current strength and the vertical profile of decay rate. For all plume scenarios, toxic levels of dissolved oil remain confined to the northern Gulf of Mexico, and abate within weeks after the spill stops. An estimate of oxygen consumption due to microbial oxidation of hydrocarbons suggests that a deep plume of hydrocarbons could lead to localized regions of prolonged hypoxia near the source, but only when oxidation of methane is included Read More…

June 17th, 2010 - Observational constraints on the global atmospheric budget of ethanol

Vaishali Naik, Arlene Fiore, Larry Horowitz from GFDL along with co-authors from NASA-AMES, NCAR, NOAA ESRL, University of Minnesota and University of California at Berkeley applied the global chemical-transport model MOZART-4 in conjunction with available observations from several regions around the globe to place constraints on the global budget of atmospheric ethanol. Their analysis indicates that over continental regions, ethanol concentrations predominantly reflect direct anthropogenic and biogenic emission sources. Furthermore, the authors find that current levels of ethanol measured in remote regions are an order of magnitude larger than those in the model, suggesting a major gap in the understanding of the sources and sinks of ethanol. Stronger constraints on the present-day budget and distribution of ethanol and other volatile organic compounds are needed to assess the impacts of increasing the use of ethanol as a fuel. Read More…

May 6th, 2010 - Export of Asian pollution to the western Pacific

Quantifying pollution inflow and outflow over East Asia in spring with regional and global models by Meiyun Lin(Princeton U), Tracey Holloway (U Wisconsin), Greg Carmichael (U Iowa), and Arlene Fiore explores two high-resolution atmospheric chemistry models to examine the role of mesoscale versus synoptic scale processes in controlling pollution export from East Asia. Their results indicate the importance of rapid pollution venting through deep convection that develops along the leading edge of frontal system convergence bands. This transport mechanism is well captured in a high-resolution climate-chemistry model (WRF-Chem), but not adequately resolved in either of two coarse-resolution global models compared with aircraft observations of pollution lofting, suggesting a real need for high-resolution model studies of global pollution transport. Read More…

March 9th, 2010 - Identification of anthropogenic and natural dust sources using MODIS Deep Blue level 2 data

Identification of anthropogenic and natural dust sources using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Deep Blue level 2 data by Paul Ginoux (NOAA GFDL), Dmitri Garbuzov (Princeton U) and Christina Hsu (NASA) explores a new method to detect anthropogenic and natural dust sources from satellite data in the eastern part of West Africa. The anthropogenic contribution appears to be significant around the lake Chad, but the magnitude of these sources seem weaker than the natural sources, in particular relative to the Bodele depression. Read More…

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