Overview of the Physical Sciences Division

The ESRL Physical Sciences Division (PSD) conducts weather and climate research to observe and understand Earth's physical environment, and to improve weather and climate predictions on global-to-local scales.


PSD's mission is to address physical science questions of short- and long-term societal and policy relevance within NOAA's Climate and Weather and Water Goals, while conducting the physical process research necessary so that ESRL can help provide the nation with a seamless suite of information and forecast products ranging from short-term weather forecasts to longer-term climate forecasts and assessments.

Scientific Goal

PSD's scientific goal is to provide the observation, analysis, and diagnosis of weather and climate physical processes necessary to increase understanding of Earth's physical environment, including the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and land, and to enable improved weather and climate predictions on global-to-local scales.


PSD will carry out research on climate and weather processes, diagnostics, modeling, empirical analyses, focused field observations, and supporting technology development.

Integration of PSD Within ESRL

The integration of PSD with ESRL brings together in the integrated expertise in weather and climate physical observations, modeling, analysis and applications. This central focus on physical process research:

  • will be supported by the observations, modeling, and computational and display systems development within the Global Systems Division,
  • help explain trends and changes in the environment observed by the Global Monitoring Division, and
  • support the understanding, diagnoses, and prediction of air quality on weather time scales to short-term climate scales and develop an improved understanding for the physical consequences of and interrelationships with current and future chemical states of the atmosphere in collaboration with the Chemical Sciences Division.


On October 1, 2005, the Climate Diagnostics Center, the Environmental Technology Laboratory, and the Aeronomy Laboratory's Tropical Dynamics & Climate Division merged into the Physical Sciences Division (PSD) of the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL). As part of the transition, the ETL Optical Remote Sensing Divison moved to the ESRL Chemical Sciences Division. This merger brought together a combined expertise in:

  1. weather and climate dynamics, diagnostic and modeling analyses,
  2. physical observations, monitoring and related technology development, and
  3. physical process understanding and research, that will help ESRL meet critical NOAA objectives in climate and weather research.

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