About Geophysical Turbulence Program (GTP)

Background and history

Research on turbulence has been a significant part of the NCAR scientific program since its beginning in the early 1960's. The scientific leaders at NCAR at that time recognized that in order to understand the dynamics of the atmosphere, the oceans, the climate, the sun, and solar-terrestrial interactions, understanding relevant turbulent processes would be essential. A number of scientific appointments in the first 10-15 years of NCAR's existence reflected this view and provided an in-house base from which to productively interact and collaborate with the world turbulence community. From these beginnings has emerged a sustained emphasis on geophysical turbulence at NCAR, in research, visitors, seminars, and workshops that continues to this day. Much of this emphasis manifests itself currently in the Geophysical Turbulence Program (GTP), and its complementary activity, the Turbulence Numerics Team (TNT).

Philosophical orientation

The orientation of GTP is very much toward basic science and is highly inclusive and outreaching. The full range of scientific methods--analytical theory, statistical analysis, stochastic modeling, algorithm development for petascale computing and beyond, and for visualizing large data sets, numerical simulation, parameterization, closures for weak and strong turbulent flows, analyses of observational data, field programs, and laboratory experiments-- are represented in the interests of the members, as well as in the seminar topics, and particularly the workshops. A new inter-disciplinary working group has been formed, on boundary layers, with the long-term goal to develop a clearer physical picture leading to better and implementable parametrizations in present climate and weather models, including chemical processes. University faculty and scientists from abroad are heavily represented in the workshops. Many areas of geophysical and astrophysical fluid dynamics and magnetohydrodynamics are included as well as laboratory and engineering fluid dynamics. GTP treats the disciplinary boundaries between turbulence and fluid dynamics as fuzzy and porous and reaches well beyond what might be characterized as classical turbulence studies and topics.

A white paper detailing many of the aspects of the organization and the philosophy of GTP and TNT is also available.


In many ways, the workshops and summer schools sponsored by GTP constitute the core of the program together with developing community tools. Special effort is made in choosing topics to reflect the universality and generality of the subject and bring together scientists from many disciplines in a forum that cuts across traditional disciplinary and application lines.

GTP hosted one workshop in 2015: