National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Physical Oceanography Division

Who we are

The Physical Oceanography Division (PhOD) is a part of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) together with the Ocean Chemistry and Hurricane Research Divisions. The Physical Oceanography Division carries out interdisciplinary scientific investigations of the physics of ocean currents and water properties, and on the role of the ocean in climate, extreme weather events, and ecosystems. The tools used to carry out these studies range from sensors on deep ocean moorings to satellite-based instruments to measurements made on research and commercial shipping vessels and autonomous vehicles, and include data analysis and numerical modeling as well as theoretical approaches.

Major areas of research
  • Meso-to-large scale dynamics and variability of ocean currents;
  • The redistribution of heat, salt and momentum through the oceans;
  • The interactions between oceans, atmosphere, and coastal environments;
  • The influence of climate variability on the ocean ecosystems, hurricanes and tornadoes;


NOAA's ARGO Float Program at AOML

PhOD videos>>

Research Highlight

A new approach provides a holistic view of ENSO variability during the onset, peak and decay phases

From its onset to the decay, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) plays an important role in forcing climate variability around the globe. A new study led by Sang-Ki Lee, a PhOD/CIMAS scientist, provides an efficient approach to explore the differences in the evolution of space-time patterns of sea surface temperature observed during El Niño events. Go>>

Recent publications
  • Spring persistence, transition, and resurgence of El Niño. [pdf]
  • Amazon River water in the northeastern Caribbean Sea and its effect on larval reef fish assemblages during April 2009. [pdf]
  • On the estimation of Lagrangian diffusivity: Influence of nonstationary mean flow. [pdf]
  • Mean vertical and horizontal structure of the subtropical circulation in the South Atlantic from three-dimensional observed velocity fields. [pdf]
  • Attribution of Deep Western Boundary Current variability at 26.5N [pdf]
  • A global perspective on CMIP5 climate model biases [pdf]

Complete list of publications>>


2013 OAR Employee of the Year Award.

Rick Lumpkin and Mayra Pazos of PhOD won the 2013 OAR Employee of the Year Award.  The award was given to recognize the Global Drifter Program's federal employees, Rick Lumpkin and Mayra Pazos, for their efforts to improve the quality of the drifter data by developing a new methodology to evaluate when drifters have lost their drogues.  This reevaluation required manual examination of time series from over 14,000 drifters, to determine cases in which the drogue lost time was misdiagnosed, and to reassess those times.  The reevaluation was initiated in April 2012 and concluded in April 2013, and publicly-available metadata files containing drogue off dates were revised 16 times during that period to distribute the most recent results.

Physical Oceanography Seminars
  • Dr. Matthieu Le Henaff, RSMAS, University of Miami: The Loop Current Frontal Dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico: Processes, Predictability, and Impacts. January 20, at 10:30am.
  • [Link]
  • Dr. Hailong Liu: Modulated Effect of ENSO on Tropical Cyclones Rapid Intensification in the Western North Pacific, January 20, 2015 at 2pm.
  • Dr. Xujing Jia Davis, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Investigations of air-sea interactions in the western boundary current regions of the North Atlantic and North Pacific. January 22, at 10:30am.
  • [Link]
  • Dr. Renellys Perez: Observed and Simulated Variability in the South Atlantic.January 27, 2015 at 2pm.
  • [Link]
  • Dr. Hosmay Lopez : Links between South Atlantic meridional heat transport and decadal variation of heat waves and precipitation extremes over the Northern Hemisphere. January 29, 2015 at 2pm.
  • [Link]
  • Dr. David Enfield: title TBA, February 3, 2015 at 10am.
  • Dr. Marlos Goes: Assessing the meridional overturning and heat transport uncertainties derived from the AX18 XBT transect along 34S.February 17 , 2015 at 2pm.
  • Dr. Denis Volkov:Internal and external forcing of sea level variability in the Black Sea, February 19, 2015 at 2pm.
  • Dr. Yanyun Liu: title TBA, February 24, 2015 at 2pm.
  • Dr. Silvia Garzoli: title TBA, March 3, 2015

All seminars are held at the AOML first floor conference room, unless otherwise stated.
A list of recent PhOD seminars can be found here.

Current Job Opportunities

  • Assistant Scientist (CIMAS/UM, position #049637) [apply on-line]
  • Numerical Modeling, Ocean Analysis, and Forecasts

  • Post Doctoral Associate (CIMAS/UM, position #049375) [apply on-line]
  • Climate, and Physical Oceanography

  • Post Doctoral Associate (CIMAS/UM, position #049376) [apply on-line]
  • Ocean Dynamics, Hydrography, and Satellite data

  • Post Doctoral Associate (CIMAS/UM, position #049638) [apply on-line]
  • Ocean Dynamics, Hydrography, and Numerical Models outputs

For questions regarding these CIMAS positions, please contact Gustavo Goni at (305) 361-4339.