BOULDER – Roger M. Wakimoto, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, will be the new assistant director at the Directorate of Geosciences, a research arm of the National Science Foundation.

In his new role, Wakimoto will lead a federal agency with an annual budget of about $1 billion. Workers at the GEO, as itís known, in Arlington, Virginia, do research in atmospheric, polar, earth and ocean sciences. That's similar to the research done at Boulder-based NCAR, which also is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Wakimoto will start the new job in February, according to a press statement. Details about who would replace him at NCAR were not immediately available.

"Roger's record of strong leadership will serve NSF and the scientific community well, given his outstanding work at NCAR and his dedication to basic research, Subra Suresh," director of the National Science Foundation, said in a press statement.

The GEO oversees an academic research fleet and a variety of facilities, including the newly launched R/V Sikuliaq and the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center, which was dedicated recently in Cheyenne.

The GEO does research that advances the ability to predict natural phenomena of economic and human significance, such as climate change, weather, earthquakes, fish-stock fluctuations and disruptive events in the solar-terrestrial environment, according to the press statement.

Wakimoto is a geophysicist with expertise in tornadoes, thunderstorms and other types of severe weather. Before becoming NCAR director in February 2010, he served as associate director for NCAR's Earth Observing Laboratory. Wakimoto has written or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and served on committees, panels and boards for a variety of government agencies.

The National Science Foundation supports research and education in science and engineering. Its budget is $7 billion in fiscal year 2012. It awards nearly $420 million in professional and service contracts every year.