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Wayne Higgins named director of NOAA’s Climate Program Office
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Wayne Higgins named director of NOAA’s Climate Program Office

Contact: Monica Allen,, 301-734-1123

Today, NOAA announced Wayne Higgins, Ph.D., as director of NOAA’s Climate Program Office.  Higgins, who has spent much of his career at the forefront of weather and climate prediction for NOAA’s National Weather Service, starts his new position July 28.

Understanding Southern Ocean

Understanding Southern Ocean

NOAA is one of 10 institutions working together on the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling program, or SOCCOM, a six-year, $21 million initiative to improve our understanding of the importance and health of the Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica. (Image by Oscar Schofield, Rutgers University)

“Dr. Higgins is a proven leader, a respected scientist, and uniquely qualified to lead NOAA’s Climate Program Office. His experience ties climate and weather research with operational climate predictions, a great combination that will help the nation become both weather-ready and climate-smart,” said Robert Detrick, Ph.D., assistant administrator of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

Since February, Higgins has served as acting director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in College Park, Md. From 2007-2013, Higgins was the director of NCEP’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC). In this position, he spearheaded initiatives to better understand and forecast specific weather and climate phenomena, to include U.S. seasonal precipitation and temperature forecasts, hurricane seasonal outlooks, drought outlooks and El Nino/La Nina (ENSO) prediction. He first joined CPC in 1994, starting as a research meteorologist and quickly advancing to principal scientist.

Higgins’ research interests include climate variability and change, weather-climate linkages (including extreme events), and observation and modeling studies to improve climate prediction. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, five book chapters, 32 atlases and technical reports, and 165 conference proceedings. Dr. Higgins also conceived and led the 2004 North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME), a multi-agency field campaign focused on improving warm season precipitation forecasts in the monsoon region of southwestern North America.

Higgins earned his Ph.D. and Masters of Science degrees in Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University and his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Illinois - Champaign/Urbana.

Higgins replaces former Climate Program Office director Chester (Chet) Koblinsky, Ph.D., who retired in August 2012.

The NOAA Climate Program Office serves as the focal point for climate programs within NOAA, supporting one of NOAA's primary mission goals: to understand climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond. To learn more, visit

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Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.


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