The Physical Sciences Laboratory analyzes and interprets physical processes that influence weather, water, and climate from hours to decades to provide scientific information supporting NOAA's mission. A major effort is to improve predictions from days to decades by identifying early warning indicators in atmosphere and ocean patterns that cause extreme events (such as floods, droughts, and heat waves).

We conduct research to improve observations, understanding, modeling and predictions of weather, water and climate variations and extremes, and their related impacts.

Physical Science Research Themes

Water Resources

Physical Science for Water Resources

The stress of too little and too much water can be destabilizing at local, regional and national scales. Accurate water monitoring and predictions are critical for a variety of societal needs including agriculture, water supply, energy, water security, and public safety.

Marine Resources

Physical Science for Marine Resources

U.S. coastal regions, including territories in the Pacific and Caribbean, host a rich diversity of marine resources spanning the warm tropical waters to Arctic sea ice covered waters. Marine resources and ecosystems are critical to commerce, human health and coastal tourism. As pressures on marine resources continue to rise, there is a need for improved monitoring and prediction of weather, climate, and water conditions impacting the marine environment.

Predicting Extremes

Physical Science for Predicting Extremes

Given the impacts of serious risk to health, economic development, and food security, improved prediction of subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) extreme weather and climate is a high priority to help NOAA meet mission responsibilities to provide early warning and informed preparedness.

Selected Topics

El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
Information and resources about El Niño and La Niña, as well as some current PSL research topics.
NOAA G-IV aircraft
El Niño Rapid Response
An unprecedented field campaign in to study El Niño while the event was ongoing.
CA Medium-Range Precip Forecasts
An experimental product to provide reliable and skillful probabilistic forecast guidance for extreme rainfall.
solar panels and wind turbine
Atmospheric Research for Renewable Energy Development
Field programs and scientific analysis to improve weather forecast models, for more efficient integration of alternative power sources.
AR animation
Atmospheric River Portal
Access information, images, analyses, forecasts, and projects related to atmospheric rivers .
Interpreting Climate Conditions
Explaining evolving climate conditions and assessing their impacts, particularly at regional or local levels.
Arctic Climate Observations
Understanding the mechanisms that control the changing Arctic climate through detailed observations.
NOAA ship Ronald Brown
Ocean Climate Observations
PSL's Air-Sea flux system is deployed on a variety of research cruises to measure interactions between the ocean and atmosphere.
20th Century Reanalysis
A global atmospheric dataset spanning 1836 to 2015 to place current atmospheric patterns into a historical perspective.
Improving Hurricane Forecasts
Observations, lab experiments, and computer modeling studies to improve measurements of air-sea processes under hurricane conditions.