NASA has named Gavin A. Schmidt to head the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, a leading Earth climate research laboratory.
Currently deputy director of the institute, Schmidt steps into the position left vacant after the retirement of long-time director James E. Hansen and becomes only the third person to hold the post.
“Gavin is a highly respected climate scientist who already also has proven himself as a terrific leader of the GISS team,” said NASA’s Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. “He is the perfect candidate to continue leading this vital research institute at a critical time for the U.S. and the world.”
Schmidt, an expert in climate modeling, began his career at GISS in 1996. His primary area of research is the simulation of past, present and future climates. He has worked on developing and improving computer models that integrate ocean, atmosphere, and land processes to simulate Earth’s climate, and is particularly interested in how their results can be compared to paleoclimatic data.
“It’s an honor to lead the team of talented scientists at GISS,” he said. “The work being done here has implications for societies across the planet, and I will strive to make that research as valuable as possible.”
Schmidt received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oxford University in 1988 and a doctorate in applied mathematics from University College London in 1994. He came to New York as a 1996 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Postdoctoral Fellow in Climate and Global Change Research.
In addition to more than 100 published, peer-reviewed articles, he is the co-author of “Climate Change: Picturing the Science” (W.W. Norton, 2009), a collaboration between climate scientists and photographers. In 2011, he was awarded the American Geophysical Union Climate Communications Prize.
GISS was founded in 1961 as NASA’s theoretical division for work on planetary atmospheres, under the direction of Robert Jastrow, and is today a leading Earth climate research laboratory. Major areas of GISS research include measurements, remote sensing and simulation of Earth’s climate, the forces driving climate change and its impacts on human society, agriculture and ecosystems and continuing work on planetary climates in the solar system and beyond. GISS works closely with partners at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and with the Earth Institute and School of Engineering at Columbia University.
NASA’s Earth science program monitors the planet’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.