Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan

Staff page photo for Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan

Research Highlights

Research Interests

Numerical weather prediction.

Model developments. 

Boundary layer meteorology. 

Numerical modeling of hurricanes.

Process studies related to rapid intensity changes in hurricanes.

Fundamental studies related to understanding of weather using models and observations.

Sundararaman “Gopal” Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D.

Senior Meteorologist, Modeling Team Lead, Hurricane Research Division


4301 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, Florida 33149

“Better prediction of weather could save lives and reduce property damages. Better understanding of weather leads to better prediction and better forecast models.”

Dr. Sundararaman “Gopal” Gopalakrishnan  is a senior meteorologist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML)’s Hurricane Research Division (HRD) and principal architect of NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) system. His research involves simulating a variety of complex, non-linear, scale interacting systems starting from dry thermals (Large Eddy Simulations) to hurricanes; examining the mesoscale structures and evolution as well as the mechanism(s) whereby they develop; testing theories, hypotheses and various near-surface model physical representations; and finally interpreting, to the extent possible, the modeled and the observed behavior of these systems. He has over 60 publications in peer-reviewed international journals. In the past, he has served as an Associate Editor for the Monthly Weather Review and Weather and Forecasting. Dr. Gopal is the co-editor of the textbook entitled “Advanced Numerical Modeling and Data Assimilation Techniques for Tropical Cyclone Predictions (publishers: Capital Press, India, and Springer, Germany). Gopal is the head of the modeling group at the Division where he supervises and mentors advanced scientists and students at post-graduate as well as post-doc levels. He is also the leader of Next-Generation Hurricane Prediction Program and Research to Operational transitions in NOAA. He is currently serving as the developmental manager for NOAA’s Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP).

Current Work

Principal architect of NOAA’s Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) system

Team Leader for Modeling Group

Developmental manager for NOAA’s Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP)

Download CV

1996, Ph.D. Atmospheric Science, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, India
Thesis Title: Mesoscale dispersion modeling in a weak wind stable boundary Layer with a special reference to the Bhopal gas leak episode

1990, Master in Technology, Atmospheric Physics, Poona University, Poona, India

1989, Master in Physics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research – Poona University, Poona, India

  1. Hazelton, A., X. Chen, G.J. Alaka, Jr., G.R. Alvey III, S. Gopalakrishnan, and F.D. Marks. Sensitivity of HAFS-B tropical cyclone forecasts to planetary boundary layer and microphysics parameterizations. Weather and Forecasting, 2024
    Ref. 4389
  2. Hazelton, A., G.J. Alaka Jr., M. Fischer, R. Torn, and S. Gopalakrishnan. Factors influencing the track of Hurricane Dorian (2019) in the west Atlantic: Analysis of a HAFS ensemble. Monthly Weather Review, 151(1):175-192, 2023
    Ref. 4213
  3. Hazelton, A., G.J. Alaka, Jr., L. Gramer, W. Ramstrom, S. Ditchek, X. Chen, B. Liu, Z. Zhang, L. Zhu, W. Wang, B. Thomas, J.H. Shin, C.-K. Wang, H.-S. Kim, X. Zhang, A. Mehra, F. Marks, and S. Gopalakrishnan. 2022 real-time hurricane forecasts from an experimental version of the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFSV0.3S) Frontiers in Earth Science, 11:1264969, 2023
    Ref. 4331

NOAA Leadership Competencies and Development Program (LCDP): Class X1 2019-2021

2014 U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal

For developing and implementing the high-resolution Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast System (HWRF) model, a major advance in operational hurricane intensity prediction.

2014 South Florida Federal Executive Board Federal Employee of the Year

For contributions in developing the advanced high-resolution Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model that is used operationally to provide forecast guidance to the National Hurricane Center.

2012 NOAA/OAR Federal Employee of the Year

For the creation of the high resolution HWRF system in partnership with NWS/NCEP/EMC.