Although you might think of the person on television telling you to take an umbrella as a meteorologist, that may or may not be true, as broadcasters are not necessarily meteorologists. Many meteorologists are actually atmospheric scientists, and their job is to study weather and climate. Meteorologists usually specialize in one or more areas, which can affect their typical workday.
Daily Work Preparation
A meteorologist must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A master’s degree is more likely to be required for many positions, and a doctorate is usually necessary for independent research. In addition to the basic courses in physics, mathematics, atmospheric science and meteorology, a student should also study areas that will affect her specialty. A meteorologist who wants to become a weather broadcaster, for example, should take courses in public speaking or journalism, while classes in computer software may help her write or edit forecasting programs.
Research and the Atmosphere
Research is the primary responsibility of a meteorologist whose specialty is atmospheric science. Researchers might measure temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, humidity and other weather-related properties. The data they collect is entered into computer software programs and databases, which are then used to create computer models to analyze the information. Meteorologists might also write software programs to analyze and display the information they have gathered. Researchers publish their findings in professional journals or at scientific organization meetings, and must prepare the material they will use for those purposes.
Cloudy or Clear
Meteorologists who work in weather forecasting create weather maps and graphics, report current weather conditions, prepare short- and long-term forecasts, and issue emergency warnings about severe weather. such as tornadoes or blizzards. Some of these meteorologists broadcast their reports on television and radio, while others -- such as meteorologists who work for the National Weather Service -- create written reports for online resources such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Some forecasters might slant their broadcasts to a particular audience, such as farmers or commuters.
Forensic meteorologists focus on past weather events. They study historical data and use it to report on weather conditions that might have affected an event such as a forest fire or traffic accident. As forensic specialists, they might research legal issues or previous court decisions related to weather incidents, provide court testimony as an expert witness or advise lawyers in a case. A forensic meteorologist might work on cases involving property damage from excessive snowfall, criminal cases in which weather played a part, or civil cases related to storm surge capacity in a city’s storm drainage system.
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