Career in Meteorology
The best known area of meteorology is weather forecasting. This is done by operational meteorologists, who try to predict the weather by analyzing information from weather satellites, photographs, and computers, as well as analyzing data from different sources.
Yet meteorologists do more than forecast weather conditions. Others study climate change, pollution and storms. They conduct research in the specialist areas of climatology (weather history and patterns), dynamic meteorology (movement of weather systems and what controls them), physical meteorology (nature of the atmosphere), and industrial meteorology (effects of industrial and urban environments on weather and climate).
Most careers in meteorology involve working for the government and private companies that utilize climate information, such as consulting firms, resource industries (e.g. gas and oil exploration) and utility companies (e.g. hydroelectric plants).
Day-to-day activities of a career in meteorology
An Operational meteorologist career involves undertake many tasks in analyzing data and predicting shorter term weather conditions, including:
- Researching weather patterns.
- Analyzing weather balloon, radar and satellite data.
- Studying data reports.
- Issuing weather warnings.
- Preparing forecasts for specific agencies.
- Predicting long or short range weather conditions.
- Preparing weather forecasts for broadcast media.
- Operating computer graphic software for reports and broadcasts.
- Broadcasting forecasts.
Climatologists' duties vary according to the particular role. However, duties may include:
- Informing officials of threatening weather events.
- Staffing weather centres.
- Analyzing past weather data reports.
- Collating and issuing data reports.
- Collaborating with other agencies.
- Ensuring that reports or services are suitable for intended users.
- Establishing an evaluation procedure for predictions.
- Contributing to the development of weather calendars.
- Liaising with other meteorological agencies.
A dynamic meteorologists career is concerned with the movements of weather systems and what controls them. Duties may include:
- Working with hydrodynamics (the forces of fluids in motion) and with thermodynamics (the forces of heat).
- Studying jet stream winds or small-scale air currents that exchange heat and moisture in the lower atmosphere.
- Developing large-scale numerical models that help forecasters predict winds, temperature, and rainfall.
A physical meteorologists career involves:
- Studying the physical nature of the atmosphere, including its chemical composition and electrical, acoustical and optical properties.
- Studying environment related problems such as global warming and ozone depletion.
- Studying the electrical and chemical properties of the atmosphere.
- Examining the processes by which water vapour becomes clouds, rain, snow and hail.
- Observing the processes by which the radiant energy of the sun becomes kinetic energy in the form of air moving over the earth.
- Examining trace gases and particles of both natural and human origin.
- Researching how the atmosphere affects the transmission of light, sound, and radio waves.
Industrial meteorologists work in industries to study and solve problems related to pollution and emissions.
Would a career in meteorology suit you?
A meteorology career usually requires at least a bachelor's degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, or in a closely related field that includes courses in meteorology. For most private consulting and many government careers in meteorology, you need a master's or doctoral degree.
You need to be interested in the fields of science that have an application in human affairs, and be challenged by the idea of applying basic scientific principles to understand the behaviour of the atmosphere. A strong aptitude for both science and mathematics is essential.
A career as a meteorologist can involved working around the clock, seven days a week, including public holidays. Overtime may be involved during weather emergencies. Deadline pressure can be frequent and unremitting. Working in weather stations often means working in isolation. Atmospheric scientists may be involved in observing weather conditions and collecting data from aircraft. Weather forecasters who broadcast forecasts may have to work evenings and weekends.
Working in larger offices or stations means working as part of a team. Meteorologists not involved in forecasting tasks work regular hours, usually in offices. Working for private consulting firms or for companies often involves travel, and these meteorologists usually work alongside other scientists or engineers.
Salary and Prospects
Meteorology is a relatively small field and the number of vacancies virtually matches the number of graduates looking for a career in meteorology. However, this means that choice is limited and most entrants need to compromise either on location or area of specialization.
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