National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Physical Oceanography Division

Linking changes in the state of the ocean with extreme weather events, ecosystems, and fisheries, in support of applications and operations for societal benefits.

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 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.

Read here about ways in which divisional work and projects benefit society [pdf]

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 ocean variability on ecosystems, hurricanes and tornadoes;


NOAA's ARGO Float Program at AOML

PhOD videos>>

Research Highlight

Global Characteristics of Coherent Vortices from Surface Drifter Trajectories

In a recent study by Lumpkin (2016) looping trajectories of surface drifting buoys were extracted from the global drifter dataset and analyzed in order to examine the distribution of submesoscale to mesoscale vortices. Over 15,000 looping trajectory segments were identified worldwide. Go>>

Recent publications
  • Investigating the seasonal predictability of significant wave height in the west Pacific and Indian Oceans. [pdf]
  • The role of the South Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation variability on modulating interhemispheric atmospheric circulation and monsoons [pdf]
  • Fulfilling Observing System Implementation Requirements with the Global Drifter Array [pdf]
  • Global characteristics of coherent vortices from surface drifter trajectories [pdf]
  • An assessment of the Brazil Current baroclinic structure and variability near 22°S in distinct ocean forecasting and analysis systems. [pdf]

Complete list of publications>>


Study Concludes Crash Site of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 Likely Falls Within Official Search Area

On March 8, 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, to Beijing, China went missing with 239 people aboard. The circumstances surrounding the aircraft’s disappearance led to various hypotheses to explain the event and to suggest the location of where the plane entered the water. Full Story>>

Physical Oceanography Seminars
  • Hosmay Lopez will give a talk on Tuesday, November 22, at 2PM; 1st floor conference room, title: The role of the South Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation on weather and climate.
  • Shenfu Dong, TBT, title: Near-surface salinity structure observed from drifters equipped with two salinity sensors in the South Pacific.

Past Seminars >>

Current Job Opportunities

  • Assistant Scientist: Hurricane Studies and Forecasts (CIMAS/UM, position #P100018552) [apply on-line]
  • Assistant Scientist: Oceanic Variability and Atlantic MOC (CIMAS/UM, position #P100017219) [apply on-line]
  • Assistant Scientist: Atlantic MOC variability (CIMAS/UM, position #P100017218) [apply on-line]
  • Postdoctoral Associate: Extratropical Atmospheric Forcing of ENSO (CIMAS/UM, position #P100019270) [apply on-line]
  • Postdoctoral Associate: Argo Analysis of Oceanic Variability (CIMAS/UM, position #P100015914) [apply on-line]
  • Postdoctoral Associate: Atlantic MOC Observations (CIMAS/UM, position #P100015908) [apply on-line]
  • Postdoctoral Associate: South Atlantic MOC Variability (CIMAS/UM, position #P100015909) [apply on-line]
  • Postdoctoral Associate: Southward Returning Pathways of AMOC (CIMAS/UM, position #P100015913) [apply on-line]
  • Research Associate II: Argo Data Analysis (CIMAS/UM, position #P100015912) [apply on-line]
  • NRC Postdoctoral Research Associateship Program: Inter-Ocean Exchanges in the South Atlantic and Their Link to Global Monsoons [more information]
  • NRC Research Associateship Programs: Tropical Ocean-Atmosphere Variability and Extreme Weather [more information]
  • NRC Research Associateship Programs: Observational and Modeling Studies of AMOC [more information]
  • NRC Research Associateship Programs: Spatial and Temporal Ocean Circulation Variability [more information]

    Postdoctoral Associate - Please let us know if are you interested in joining our team as a Postdoctoral Associate working on a field of research closely related to our divisional objectives. You may contact Gustavo Goni for additional details.

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