Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab

The Cooperative Institute for Climate Applications and Research (CICAR) is a research partnership between the Earth Institute, Columbia University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is hosted by the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) located in Princeton, New Jersey.


Combining Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and GFDL expertise under CICAR creates a center of excellence for Earth System history, modeling, and analysis. Additionally, CICAR facilitates the involvement of social scientists from the Earth Institute to study the impact of climate and climate change on society and to develop tools for stakeholders and decision makers.


The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory is NOAA’s center for climate change research through state-of-the art climate modeling methodology and advanced study of ocean and atmospheric dynamics. The goal of GFDL’s research is to understand and predict the Earth’s climate and weather, including the impact of human activities. GFDL conducts leading edge research on many topics including weather and hurricane forecasts, El Nino prediction, stratospheric ozone depletion, and climate change.


In particular, GFDL research concerns the following:  

·       Predictability of weather on large and small scales

·       Structure, variability, predictability, stability and sensitivity of global and regional climate

·       Structure, variability and dynamics of the ocean over its many space and time scales

·       Interaction of the atmosphere and oceans, and how the atmosphere and oceans influence and are influenced by various trace constituents

·       Earth's atmospheric general circulation within the context of the family of planetary atmospheric circulations


The LDEO and Earth Institute expertise in general climate and earth science research and education provide a fertile environment to address present and future needs in the fields of climate research and applications and to complement and collaborate with GFDL research groups. Collaborative research efforts extend to more specific fields such as climate modeling and prediction, collection, analysis, and archiving of instrumental and paleoclimate data, and application of climate data and information for decision making and societal risk assessment.


Goal oriented research teams, with members of GFDL and LDEO research staff, are an important way of strengthening the collaboration between LDEO and GFDL. These teams conduct research on themes that help promote both Institutes’ scientific agenda. Such collaborative research is facilitated through the involvement of scientists or via jointly supervised or mentored graduate students or postdoctoral fellows. The first of these joint research projects, Understanding Climate Change From the Medieval Warm Period to the Greenhouse Future, studied the changes in global climate and climate variability over the period from 1000AD to 2200AD. The primary purpose of this collaborative research effort was to understand and simulate climate change under external forcing such as solar radiation variability and volcanic eruptions and to put the predicted change due to anthropogenic forcing in the context of changes in the recent past. Another project, Predicting North American Hydroclimate Change and Variability on the Interannual to Multidecadal Timescale, will look into the skill of the realistically initialized decadal prediction runs with the new generation of GFDL coupled climate models.


Under CICAR, the research parallels and existing relationships between NOAA / GFDL and the Earth Institute / LDEO are advanced for the benefit of both organizations. As part of the NOAA / OAR Office of Scientific Support Cooperative Institute Program, CICAR functions as an institutional mechanism working to strengthen the research collaboration between NOAA and the U.S. universities research community.