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;


AOML XBT Network

PhOD videos>>

Research Highlight

Results from research performed by Dillon Amaya, an undergraduate Hollings Scholar from Texas A&M University, were published recently in Journal of Geophysical Research. Dillon's work was carried out in the Physical Oceanography Division of AOML during the summer of 2013 and focused on understanding the impacts of different types of El Niño events ("canonical" and "Modoki") on sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic. The main result from the research is that Modoki El Niños fail to produce significant warming in the tropical North Atlantic, in contrast to the well known warming following canonical events. Go>>

Recent publications
  • Impact of canonical and Modoki El Niño on tropical Atlantic SST. [link]
  • Wind forced variability of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current south of Africa between 1993 - 2010 [link]
  • Oceanographic conditions in the Gulf of Mexico in July 2010, during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill [pdf]
  • Do the North Atlantic winds drive the nonseasonal variability of the Arctic Ocean sea level? [link]
  • A global perspective on CMIP5 climate model biases [link]

Complete list of publications>>


PhOD hosts the Mandatory Ship Reporting System

The Mandatory Ship Reporting System aims to reduce the risk of ship strikes with northern right whales, and it requires all commercial vessels heavier than 300 gross tons to report to the Coast Guard upon entering two designated areas along the east coast of United States. Reporting ships receive an automated response containing instructions on how to reduce the risk of collisions. The new MSR v2.0, which is fully developed and maintained by PhOD personnel, started its operations on April 1, 2014.Go>>

Physical Oceanography Seminars
  • No seminars scheduled at this moment

A list of recent PhOD seminars can be found here.

Current Job Opportunities
  • No job openings at this moment