Salient, a Boston-based startup that creates the world’s most accurate subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) weather forecasts, recently welcomed industry veteran Matt Stein as CEO and Co-founder. Matt joined Salient from Jupiter Intelligence, where he led the global commercial organization to become a world leader in climate risk intelligence.
Fellow co-founders Dr. Ray Schmitt and Dr. Sam Levang created Salient in 2019 while at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where Schmitt spent 40 years as a Senior Scientist and Physical Oceanographer. “We are thrilled that Matt has joined us at Salient,” Schmitt said.”We needed a CEO who not only understands Salient’s domain, but who can also bring enterprise business experience, and is accustomed to working closely with a highly technical team.”
“Climate change has made extreme weather the norm, and we must ensure that businesses can make decisions based on more accurate and more complete weather forecasts,” said Stein. “Traditionally, weather forecasts have been focused on the 10-day outlook. Salient’s team has built unique, proprietary technology that makes it possible to forecast in the timeframes in which businesses think—monthly, quarterly and beyond.”
Salient has big ambitions, and has made strong progress to date. “Our goal is to become the global standard for forecasting weather 2 to 52 weeks out,” Stein says. “We’ve already proven that our machine-learning-first approach consistently outperforms the large government agencies and private forecasters. As we continue to stretch the boundaries of S2S accuracy, and more enterprises become aware of our capabilities, I am confident we will see wide-scale adoption of Sailent’s technology across multiple industries.”
Salient’s approach to modeling is different from traditional S2S forecasters, who largely use the same approach as short-term weather modelers, namely solving complex physical equations of the atmosphere. Salient’s core technology is originally based on Dr. Schmitt’s groundbreaking research, which linked precipitation rates to ocean salinity, and has expanded rapidly from there.
When they began exploring the applications of the research in 2017, Dr. Schmitt and his sons entered a year-long rainfall forecasting competition sponsored by the US Bureau of Reclamation, with the goal of scaling out his scientific discoveries with machine learning. The Schmitt team beat out every forecaster by at least 2x, and laid the foundation upon which Salient was built.
Since then, Salient has assembled a team of science, machine learning, and engineering experts, including Dr. Schmitt’s former postdoctoral student Dr. Sam Levang from the Woods Hole / MIT joint program on climate. Sam described Salient’s approach further, “Machine learning is uniquely suited to detect connections between changes in variables associated with the water cycle and the future weather. Traditional weather models, on the other hand, break down after a week or so, due to the chaotic nature of the atmosphere.”
Salient’s technical progress has attracted numerous customers, including chemical and agriculture multinational BASF. “Providing farmers with access to even better data that optimizes crop production is our goal and what motivates us to continue exploring and partnering with innovative tech companies large and small,” said Jeff Spencer, Global Technology & Data lead, BASF Digital Farming in a recent news release. “The weather data provided by Salient uses machine learning and is informed by a wide range of additional, unique sources to further improve its accuracy. We are confident that Salient’s forecasting data, when integrated with our advanced agronomic decision-making engine, will be of great benefit to farmers.”
Stein is excited by Salient’s potential to make a positive societal impact in the face of a changing climate. “The more we can inform global challenges like feeding the next billion or uncovering early signals for events like last year’s Texas freeze, the catastrophic floods in Europe, or California’s perennial wildfires, the better prepared communities and businesses can be,” he says. “I’m proud to be part of a team that is dedicated to creating a more climate-resilient future.”
Salient combines novel ocean and land-surface data with machine learning and climate expertise to deliver the world’s most accurate subseasonal-to-seasonal weather forecasts–2 to 52 weeks in advance. Bringing together world-leading experts in physical oceanography, climatology and the global water cycle, machine learning, and business growth, Salient helps enterprise clients improve resiliency, increase preparedness, and make better decisions in the face of a rapidly changing climate. Learn more at www.salientpredictions.com/