He will be replaced by Rob Varley, the organisation’s current operations and services director, who’s responsible for weather and ocean observations, forecasting and operational services, both in the UK and internationally.
Varley has worked for the Met Office for more than 30 years, starting his career as a weather forecaster.
Hirst will take up a number of non-executive director roles in private companies and may also take some time off, according to his office.
Asked by CSW at the end of last year what his biggest policy and delivery challenges in 2013 were, he said that the “biggest challenges for the Met Office come from outside – from the weather and the people we serve”, adding that 2013 was “full-on, with launches of new services like our Space Weather service in collaboration with the US, providing advance warning of space weather events that can cause temporary disruption to electricity supply, satellites and GPS navigation.”
Forecasting key challenges for this year, he said: “We will deal with the weather, climate science debate, volcanic eruptions, floods (with our colleagues from the Environment Agency) and anything else the natural world throws at us, and we will aim to share and use our progress to the benefit of the our customers and the UK as a whole.”
He joined the Met Office as chief executive in 2007 after working as group chief executive officer at technology company Premier Farnell plc for seven years.
See also: Perm Sec Round-Up: John Hirst