FSU announces appointment of new state climatologist

David Zierden, climate scientist at Florida State University’s Center For Ocean Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), has been named state climatologist of Florida.

Zierden, who has served as assistant state climatologist since 1999, succeeds Robert O. Lawton Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography James J. O’Brien. O’Brien is now the climatologist emeritus.

The state climatologist is a service position that provides information about past weather events to the citizens of Florida, O’Brien said. Part of Zierden’s role will be to inform and educate Floridians about current and emerging climate issues.

"The Florida Climate Center answers about 50 requests per week from citizens, engineers, lawyers and others seeking information about past weather occurrences," O’Brien said. "We get everything from simple questions about the weather to detailed data requests."

The center is a nationally recognized climate office that works with the National Climatic Data Center, Southeast Regional Climate Center and the National Weather Service to provide data and climate services. The center maintains archives of original cooperative weather station observations dating to the early 1900s as well as rainfall records and National Climatic Data Center publications. The center also can provide information and analyses on extreme events such as storms, freezes, droughts, floods and hurricanes, according to Zierden.

An avid fisherman and surfer, Zierden said he has always been fascinated by changing climate conditions and storms. His interest in the weather led him to FSU, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in meteorology.

To contact the climate center, call (850) 644-3417 or visit www.coaps.fsu.edu/climate_center.