Earth Institute Staff Directory

Dr. Gavin Schmidt

Director , NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)

2880 Broadway
Mail Code: 0205
New York, NY 10025

BIOGRAPHY: Gavin Schmidt’s main research interest lies in understanding the variability of the climate, both its internal variability and the response to external forcing. In particular, how changes related to varying forcings relate to variations due to intrinsic (unforced) climate variability such as oscillations in the ocean's deep thermohaline circulation that affect ocean heat transports or atmospheric modes of variability like the North Atlantic Oscillation. He mainly uses large-scale Earth System Models for the atmosphere, ocean, ice and land to investigate these questions. The most recent update to the GISS ModelE is described in Schmidt et al. (2014a).
He is particularly interested in ways in which model skill can be evaluated over the instrumental period and in paleo-climate records, with a focus on periods that might provide key constraints on the system (Schmidt, 2010). He recently coordinated a white paper on how these measures of skill in representing past climate changes can be directly used to inform future projections (Schmidt et al,., 2014b).
The evidence of long term paleo-climate variability exists primarily in the form of proxy data recorded in deep sea cores, ice cores, tree rings and other proxies such as the skeletal remains of corals or in speleothems (cave deposits). The main difficulty is that the proxy data are records of multiple processes and hence, it is difficult to unambiguously ascribe a climatic cause to any particular recorded event, hence incorporating 'forward models' of the proxies themselves is a key step in being able to assess the proxy 'fingerprints' of change.