Gavin Schmidt

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Gavin Schmidt
Education BA (Oxon); PhD (London), both in mathematics
Alma mater Jesus College, Oxford
University College London.
Occupation Climate modeller
Employer Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Schmidt's homepage

Gavin A. Schmidt is a climatologist, climate modeler and Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. He has worked on the variability of the ocean circulation and climate, using general circulation models (GCMs). He has also worked on ways to reconcile paleo-data with models. He helped develop the GISS ocean and coupled GCMs to improve the representation of the present day climate, while investigating their response to climate forcing. The latest GISS GCM is called ModelE.[1]

He is the co-author, with Joshua Wolfe, of Climate Change: Picturing the Science (2009), which has a foreword by Jeffrey D. Sachs. The book combines images of the effects of climate change with scientific explanations.[2]

In October 2011, the American Geophysical Union announced that Schmidt was to be awarded its inaugural Climate Communications Prize for his work on communicating climate-change issues to the public. The award is to be presented at the AGU's Fall Meeting in December. The award news release noted his outreach work including co-founding and contributing to the RealClimate blog.[3][4]

NASA named Schmidt to head GISS in June 2014. He stepped into the position left vacant after the retirement of long-time director James E. Hansen, becoming the third person to hold the post.[5] In an interview with Science News, Schmidt said that he wanted to continue the institute's work on climate modeling and to expand its work on climate impacts and astrobiology.[6]


He was educated at The Corsham School, earned a BA (Hons) in mathematics at Jesus College, Oxford, and a PhD in applied mathematics at University College London.[7]


He has published over 70 refereed articles in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science, and Nature,[8] and was named In November 2004 as one of Scientific American's "Top 50 Research Leaders" of the year.[9]

His main research interest is climate variability, both its internal and the response to climate forcing, investigated via ocean-atmosphere general circulation models. He also uses these to study palaeoclimate by working on methods to compare palaeo-data with model output. Schmidt helps to develop the GISS ocean and coupled GCMs (ModelE). This model has been "isotopically enabled" to carry oxygen-18 tracers, allowing the model to simulate the pattern of δ18O observed in ice cores, cave records and ocean sediments.

Media and outreach[edit]

Schmidt is a founding member and contributor to RealClimate, a blog that provides commentary on climate science for the public and journalists.[10][11] Participants on the website state that all posts on the site are internally peer reviewed. Many are written by other members, with frequent guest posts from non-member leading scientists. Schmidt's articles and comments on the blog have presented scientific defense against accusations raised in controversies over the hockey stick graph.[12] During the 2009-2010 Climatic Research Unit email controversy he strongly defended the scientists involved, including Michael E. Mann and Phil Jones. Journalist Fred Pearce notes that in a post on the blog, Schmidt wrote that the emails merely showed how scientists interact in private, and that "Gravity isn't a useful theory because Newton was a nice man."[13]

On 16 October 2011, the American Geophysical Union announced that Schmidt was to be awarded its inaugural Climate Communications Prize which "recognizes excellence in climate communication as well as the promotion of scientific literacy, clarity of messaging, and efforts to foster respect and understanding for science-based values related to climate change". It noted his part in co-founding and writing for RealClimate, in working with photographers to produce a popular science book, his work in producing online courses and in preparing museum exhibits. Schmidt was also praised for making numerous appearances as a commentator on TV and radio, and in magazine and newspaper articles, giving a scientist’s perspective on the study of climate and on climate issues. The award, to be presented at the AGU's Fall Meeting in December, includes a $25,000 cash award.[3]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ Hansen, J. et al. (2007). "Dangerous human-made interference with climate: A GISS modelE study.". Atmos. Chem. Phys. 7: 2287–2312. doi:10.5194/acp-7-2287-2007. 
    Koch, D., G.A. Schmidt, C.V. Field (2006). "Sulfur, sea salt and radionuclide aerosols in GISS ModelE.". J. Geophys. Res. 111 (D06206). Bibcode:2006JGRD..11106206K. doi:10.1029/2004JD005550. 
    Schmidt, G.A. et al. (2006). "Present day atmospheric simulations using GISS ModelE: Comparison to in-situ, satellite and reanalysis data". J. Climate 19: 153–192. Bibcode:2006JCli...19..153S. doi:10.1175/JCLI3612.1. 
  2. ^ =Schmidt, G.A.; Wolfe, J. (2009). Climate Change: Picturing the Science. W.W. Norton. p. 305. ISBN 0-393-33125-3. 
  3. ^ a b "Inaugural Climate Communications Prize Winner Announced". American Geophysical Union. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Krajick, Kevin (18 October 2011). "New Public Outreach Prize Goes to Earth Institute Climatologist". State of the Planet blog, The Earth Institute, Columbia University. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "NASA Names Schmidt Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies". NASA. June 9, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  6. ^ Kintisch, Eli (June 9, 2014). "'Unflappable' Science 'Warrior' Chosen to Lead Key NASA Climate Lab". Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  7. ^ "Contributor's Biography page". RealClimate. Retrieved 2008-03-20. 
  8. ^ "GISS Publications, Gavin A.Schmidt web page". Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  9. ^ Goddard Institute of Space Studies (9 November 2004). "NASA Climatologists Named in Scientific American Top 50 Scientists". Retrieved 2004-11-09. 
  10. ^ "RealClimate: About". 1 December 2004. Retrieved 2009-10-31. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Schmidt, Gavin; Amman, Caspar (18 February 2005). "Dummies guide to the latest “Hockey Stick” controversy". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Pearce, Fred, The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth about Global Warming, (2010) Guardian Books, ISBN 978-0-85265-229-9, p. XII, pp. 181–182.

External links[edit]