Interestingly, the previous GEO Director, Tim Killeen, also was formerly the Director of NCAR.
The NSF announcement provided this background info:
As the principal source of federal funding for university-based fundamental research in the geosciences, GEO addresses the nation's need to understand, predict and respond to environmental events and changes to use Earth's resources wisely. Basic research in the geosciences advances scientific knowledge of Earth's environment, including resources such as water, energy, minerals and biological diversity. GEO-supported research also advances our 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.
GEO manages facilities and an academic research fleet, including the newly launched R/V Sikuliaq and the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center, which was dedicated last month.
Wakimoto was a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science at UCLA, where he chaired the Department. He has written or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and served on numerous committees, panels and boards for NSF, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society and other organizations. He has won numerous awards and honors, including a scientific and technical achievement award from the Environmental Protection Agency for observations of air pollution and the Meisinger Award from the American Meteorological Society in recognition of his contributions to understanding mesoscale weather events.
Wakimoto will begin his NSF appointment in February 2013.
Side note, I currently serve on the NSF GEO Advisory Committee.