Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Last updated
Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory
Agency overview
Formed 1973
Headquarters Virginia Key, Miami, Florida
Agency executives
  • Dr. Robert M. Atlas, Director
  • Dr. Molly Baringer, Deputy Director
Parent agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), a federal research laboratory, is part of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), located in Miami, Florida. AOML's research spans tropical cyclone and hurricanes, coastal ecosystems, oceans and human health, climate studies, global carbon systems, and ocean observations. It is one of seven NOAA Research Laboratories (RLs). [1]

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration An American scientific agency within the US Department of Commerce that focuses on the oceans and the atmosphere

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an American scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere.

Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). OAR is also referred to as NOAA Research.

Tropical cyclone Rapidly rotating storm system

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; while in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".


AOML’s organizational structure consists of an Office of the Director and three scientific research divisions. The Office of the Director oversees the Laboratory’s scientific programs, as well as its financial, administrative, computer, outreach/education, and facility management services. Research programs are augmented by the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS), a joint enterprise with the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. CIMAS enables AOML and university scientists to collaborate on research areas of mutual interest and facilitates the participation of students and visiting scientists.

The Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) is a research institute of the University of Miami located in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). CIMAS serves as a mechanism to bring together the research resources of the Partner Universities with those of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in order to develop a Center of Excellence that is relevant to understanding the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere within the context of NOAA’s mission. In 2010 CIMAS was restructured in light of its successful submission to a competitive award program to keep pace with changes in scientific and societal priorities as well as changes in both the NOAA and university regional context. It is one of 16 NOAA Cooperative Institutes (CIs).

The Laboratory is a member of a unique community of marine research and educational institutions located on Virginia Key in Miami, Florida. Approximately $150M per year is invested in marine science and education among the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center, the Miami Seaquarium, the Maritime and Science Technology Academy (MAST Academy).

Virginia Key Neighborhood of Miami in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States

Virginia Key is a 863-acre (3.49 km2) barrier island in Miami, Florida, United States in Biscayne Bay, south of Brickell and north of Key Biscayne. It accessible from the mainland via the Rickenbacker Causeway.

The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is a academic and research institution for the study of oceanography and the atmospheric sciences within the University of Miami (UM). It is located on a 16 acre campus on Virginia Key in Miami, Florida. It is the only subtropical applied and basic marine and atmospheric research institute in the continental United States.

Miami Seaquarium

The Miami Seaquarium is a 38-acre (15 ha) oceanarium located on the island of Virginia Key in Biscayne Bay, Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States and is located near downtown Miami. Founded in 1955, it is one of the oldest oceanariums in the United States. In addition to marine mammals, the Miami Seaquarium houses fish, sharks, sea turtles, birds, reptiles, and manatees. The park offers daily presentations and hosts overnight camps, events for boy scouts, and group programs. Over 500,000 people visit the facility annually. The park has around 225 employees, and its lease payments and taxes make it the third-largest contributor to Miami-Dade County’s revenue.


The deeper roots of AOML can be traced to the oceanographic investigations of the U.S. Coast Survey beginning in the mid-19th century under the direction of Professor Alexander Dallas Bache, great grandson of Benjamin Franklin and a preeminent U.S. science figure of the age. In subsequent decades, the urgency of charting coastal waters in support of growing commerce, a task increased by the acquisition of Alaska, Hawaii, and other island territories, came to require all the resources of the Coast Survey.

Alexander Dallas Bache American scientist

Alexander Dallas Bache was an American physicist, scientist, and surveyor who erected coastal fortifications and conducted a detailed survey to map the mideastern United States coastline. Originally an army engineer, he later became Superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey, and built it into the foremost scientific institution in the country before the Civil War.

The modern era can be considered to have begun during the 1960s. In early 1966, an Institute for Oceanography was created, primarily from research groups of the then U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey of the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA, forerunner of NOAA). The following year the Institute was relocated to Miami for a variety of reasons, including the presence already in Miami of meteorological research groups of ESSA dedicated to hurricane research, and air-sea interaction was a hot topic of the time in weather research.

All of these groups were reorganized as the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories (AOML) and by 1973 took occupancy in the new laboratory constructed on Virginia Key.

Emphasis at AOML continues to be on making and interpreting observations of the ocean and atmosphere from ships, buoys, and research aircraft. The motivation and objectives of our research is continually evolving, however. In the beginning, study of the geology, geophysics, and sedimentation of the sea floor was the largest activity of the Laboratory, but it has diminished to a smaller part of ecosystem research. Research in response to concerns for marine environmental quality and large-scale physics and chemistry of the oceans related to climate variation and global change have supplemented the original themes. Research into the nature and mechanisms of hurricanes has been and is also expected to continue as a major theme in view of the importance of this natural hazard to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States.

New projects include expansion of the use of satellite and locally operated remote sensing techniques to enhance the coverage and detail of observations. Outreach via electronic communication is enabling AOML to serve a larger constituency with access to oceanographic and meteorological observations.


AOML conducts mission oriented scientific research that seeks to understand the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics and processes of the ocean and atmosphere, both separately and as a coupled system. The Laboratory’s research themes (oceans and climate, coastal ecosystems, and hurricanes and tropical meteorology) employ a cross-disciplinary approach, conducted through collaborative interactions with national and international research and environmental forecasting institutions. More information about AOML's research can be found at

AOML 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 (

AOML manages, leads, or participate in the design, implementation, maintenance, and enhancement of several key components of the global ocean observing system and, with these and other data, conducts research in several areas including:

Coastal ecosystems

Coastal and regional ecosystem research has been a focus of AOML activities for more than two decades. Current interdisciplinary field efforts include physical, biological, and chemical studies supporting the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER) effort and the underlying health of this ecosystem to the regional Intra-Americas Sea program, as well as the status and health of coral reef ecosystems worldwide.

Coastal Ecosystem related research projects:

Hurricanes and tropical meteorology

Tropical meteorology research at AOML is focused on advancing the understanding and prediction of hurricanes and other tropical weather. Scientists conduct their research utilizing a combination of models, theories, and observations, with particular emphasis on data obtained with research aircraft in the inner core of tropical cyclones and their surrounding environment.

Hurricanes and tropical meteorology related research projects:

Related Research Articles

Oceanography The study of the physical and biological aspects of the ocean

Oceanography, also known as oceanology, is the study of the physical and biological aspects of the ocean. It is an Earth science, which covers a wide range of topics, including ecosystem dynamics; ocean currents, waves, and geophysical fluid dynamics; plate tectonics and the geology of the sea floor; and fluxes of various chemical substances and physical properties within the ocean and across its boundaries. These diverse topics reflect multiple disciplines that oceanographers blend to further knowledge of the world ocean and understanding of processes within: astronomy, biology, chemistry, climatology, geography, geology, hydrology, meteorology and physics. Paleoceanography studies the history of the oceans in the geologic past.

National Hurricane Center division of the United States National Weather Service

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is the division of the United States' National Weather Service responsible for tracking and predicting tropical weather systems between the Prime Meridian and the 140th meridian west poleward to the 30th parallel north in the northeast Pacific Ocean and the 31st parallel north in the northern Atlantic Ocean. The agency, which is co-located with the Miami branch of the National Weather Service, is situated on the campus of Florida International University in University Park, Florida.

Evan B. Forde is an African-American oceanographer.

This is a list of meteorology topics. The terms relate to meteorology, the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere that focuses on weather processes and forecasting.

The Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) is a laboratory in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR). It is one of seven NOAA Research Laboratories (RLs). The PMEL is split across two sites in the Pacific Northwest, in Seattle, Washington and Newport, Oregon.

Atlantic hurricane tropical cyclone that forms in the North Atlantic Ocean

An Atlantic hurricane or tropical storm is a tropical cyclone that forms in the Atlantic Ocean, usually between the months of June and November. A hurricane differs from a cyclone or typhoon only on the basis of location. A hurricane is a storm that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, and a cyclone occurs in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean.

1926 Nassau hurricane Category 4 Atlantic hurricane in 1926

The 1926 Nassau hurricane also known as the San Liborio hurricane or The Great Bahamas Hurricane of 1926, in Puerto Rico, was a destructive Category 4 hurricane that affected the Bahamas at peak intensity. Although it weakened considerably before its Florida landfall, it was one of the most severe storms to affect the Bahamian capital Nassau and the island of New Providence in several years until the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, which occurred just two years later. The storm also delivered flooding rains and loss of crops to the southeastern United States and Florida.

Christopher Landsea American meteorologist

Christopher William "Chris" Landsea is an American meteorologist, formerly a research meteorologist with Hurricane Research Division of Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory at NOAA, and now the Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society.

Atlantic hurricane reanalysis project

The Atlantic hurricane reanalysis project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeks to correct and add new information about past North Atlantic hurricanes. It was started around 2000 to update HURDAT, the official hurricane database for the Atlantic Basin, which has become outdated since its creation due to various systematic errors introduced into the database over time. This effort has involved reanalyses of ship observations from the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS) as well as reanalyses done by other researchers over the years. It has been ongoing as of 2016, and should last another four years.

Environmental Science Services Administration

The Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA) was a United States Federal executive agency created in 1965 as part of a reorganization of the United States Department of Commerce. Its mission was to unify and oversee the meteorological, climatological, hydrographic, and geodesic operations of the United States. It operated until 1970, when it was replaced by the new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Natural disasters in India

Natural disasters in India, many of them related to the climate of India, cause massive losses of life and property. Droughts, flash floods, cyclones, avalanches, landslides brought by torrential rains, and snowstorms pose the greatest threats. A natural disaster might be caused by earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruption, landslides, hurricanes etc. In order to be classified as a disaster it will have profound environmental effect and/or human loss and frequently incurs financial loss. Other dangers include frequent summer dust storms, which usually track from north to south; they cause extensive property damage in North India and deposit large amounts of dust from arid regions. Hail is also common in parts of India, causing severe damage to standing crops such as rice and wheat and many more crops.

The Hurricane Research Division (HRD) is a section of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) in Miami, Florida, and is the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) focus for tropical cyclone research. The thirty member division is not a part of the National Hurricane Center but cooperates closely with them in carrying out its annual field program and in transitioning research results into operational tools for hurricane forecasters. HRD was formed from the National Hurricane Research Laboratory in 1984, when it was transferred to AOML and unified with the oceanographic laboratories.

The Rapid Climate Change-Meridional Overturning Circulation and Heatflux Array (RAPID/MOCHA) program is a collaborative research project between the National Oceanography Centre, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) that measure the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) and ocean heat transport in the North Atlantic Ocean. This array was deployed in March 2004 to continuously monitor the MOC and ocean heat transport that are primarily associated with the Thermohaline Circulation across the basin at 26°N. The RAPID-MOCHA array is planned to be continued through 2014 to provide a decade or longer continuous time series.

Global Drifter Program Collecting measurements of surface ocean currents, sea surface temperature and sea-level atmospheric pressure using drifters

The Global Drifter Program (GDP), was conceived by Prof. Peter Niiler, with the objective of collecting measurements of surface ocean currents, sea surface temperature and sea-level atmospheric pressure using drifters. It is the principal component of the Global Surface Drifting Buoy Array, a branch of NOAA's Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and a scientific project of the Data Buoy Cooperation Panel (DBCP). The project originated in February 1979 as part of the TOGA/Equatorial Pacific Ocean Circulation Experiment (EPOCS) and the first large-scale deployment of drifters was in 1988 with the goal of mapping the tropical Pacific Ocean's surface circulation. The current goal of the project is to use 1250 satellite-tracked surface drifting buoys to make accurate and globally dense in-situ observations of mixed layer currents, sea surface temperature, atmospheric pressure, winds and salinity, and to create a system to process the data. Horizontal transports in the oceanic mixed layer measured by the GDP are relevant to biological and chemical processes as well as physical ones.


  1. "NOAA Research Laboratories". NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Retrieved 2014-04-26.