Mr. Larson said the long delay in nominating a director would make the job harder. “He’s starting way behind unfortunately,” Mr. Larson said. “His science savvy would have been useful in the current and previous budget cycles.”
Dr. Droegemeier will also have to contend with a boss who has called climate change a Chinese hoax.
As a meteorologist studying short-term weather patterns, Dr. Droegemeier’s thoughts on climate change are not widely known, and his name is not familiar to many researchers in the field.
“No clue,” said Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution, said he only knew of Dr. Droegemeier from a few comments about climate change he had made to the media.
“His statements make him sound extraordinarily sensible, compared to other Trump nominees,” said Dr. Caldeira.
J. Marshall Shepherd, a meteorologist at the University of Georgia, said that Dr. Droegemeier had a firm grasp of climate change and how it can supercharge extreme weather.
“Just having a voice in the room on climate that understands the equations, the scientific process and what is at stake is a huge win for science and the earth,” he said.
Kenneth Chang contributed reporting.