WASHINGTON – The White House has tapped Ryan Maue, a meteorologist who has challenged connections between extreme weather and climate change, to serve as the new chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Two NOAA officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the personnel move, confirmed the appointment is in process.
The position, pushed forward by the White House pending completion of ethics and security reviews, would put Maue in a leadership position within the agency. As chief scientist, Maue would be tasked with helping to establish its oceans and atmosphere research priorities as well as playing a role in enforcing its scientific integrity policy.
The White House and NOAA declined to comment, and the Commerce Department that oversees NOAA did not respond to a request for comment.
The NOAA scientific integrity policy is meant to prevent political influence from interfering with its scientific work as well as the communication of NOAA scientists' findings. The current acting chief scientist, Craig McLean, initiated an investigation into NOAA leaderships' actions during the controversy surrounding the agency's support for President Donald Trump's inaccurate claims regarding the path of Hurricane Dorian.
Maue is a meteorologist who serves as the developer of weathermodels.com, a site which displays computer model information using eye-catching graphics to make their simulations accessible to professionals and hobbyists. He was previously an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, an independent think tank, which was involved in efforts to challenge the seriousness of human-induced climate change.
Along with Patrick Michaels, a climate change contrarian, Maue penned a 2018 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal challenging the climate change projections made in 1988 by noted former NASA scientist James Hansen, which other researchers, backed by peer-reviewed studies, have found were prescient.
He has harshly criticized climate activists and Democrats for pushing for cuts in fossil fuel emissions by linking extreme weather events to global warming, but he does not dispute the fact that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the planet in ways that are resulting in significant impacts. He has also spoken out against scientists who link rapid Arctic climate change to weather extremes taking place outside the Arctic.
In recent months he's been harshly critical of California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and his rhetoric linking the deadly wildfire season to climate change, despite climate studies that show global warming is amplifying wildfire risks and making blazes more intense and frequent.
For example, a study published in August shows California's frequency of fall days with extreme fire-weather conditions has more than doubled since the 1980s.
Maue is also known for tracking and evaluating the accuracy of weather forecasting models and has a lengthy social media history of criticizing NOAA's National Weather Service for falling behind Europe, the U.K. and Canada when it comes to the accuracy of its computer modeling. But he has also praised the agency's recent efforts to close the gap.