Meteorology, in its most simplified version, is the study of the earth's atmosphere and surface for the purpose of deriving information that is useful for preserving life and for predicting weather conditions. In today's changing times, where environmental issues are really coming to the fore, it is the science of meteorology that provides all the necessary proof that our planet is dying a slow death.
The word itself is derived from the Greek word Meteoron, which simply means something that occurs in the sky. Anyone who contributes towards this activity and studies the conditions of the earth's atmosphere, can hence be termed a meteorologist. This is a very important profession in the field of science, and the most practical use of this field of study are the weather predictions that are arrived at. Weather predictions warn certain areas about impending disasters and this helps preserve all forms of life on our planet.
Different Career Paths in Meteorology
A meteorologist is often viewed as someone who simply predicts the weather, but this is far from the truth. There are several activities that a meteorologist undertakes in order to make these forecasts, and all of these processes come in handy at some point in time. When choosing a source of employment, a meteorologist needs to choose between the private sector and the Government, since both areas offer multiple jobs with contrasting roles.
For instance, Government jobs allow a meteorologist to become a Research Meteorologist (who studies the impact of earthly activities on the climate and the weather), an Operational Forecaster (who informs public bodies about changes in the weather and an approaching disaster) or an Observer (who simply analyzes the weather and collects data about it). Some meteorologists can also get enlisted in the military and study weather conditions for the purpose of ensuring that various military operations go smoothly.
In the private sector, the needs that meteorologists fulfill are very different. For instance, news channels and media stations require meteorologists for the sole purpose of forecasting the weather and informing viewers. Companies that carry out utility activities like petroleum refinement require meteorologists to plan their operations and projects, newspapers require meteorologists for the same reason that news channels do and lastly, schools and colleges need meteorologists to teach the subject to their students. Some other independent meteorologists undertake forensic research activities for insurance companies, for weather consulting companies, for airlines to maintain flight safety and for bio-meteorology entities.
What Does a Meteorologist Do
With the help of advanced tools and computers, meteorologists regularly fulfill the following tasks.
- They study the changing trends of the temperature in the world by studying the polar ice caps, the atmosphere, the land, the oceans and the life on all these surfaces.
- They predict the frequency, the intensity and the location of storms and tornadoes.
- They study the causes and the effects of dangerous weather conditions like hurricanes.
- They study the effects of pollution on the earth's atmosphere, and recommend suitable means to battle these pollutants.
- They forecast the weather using the suitable equipment, and warn various industries and the general public about their predictions.
- They provide freelance consulting to multiple industries, so that they can plan their projects around unfavorable weather conditions.
- They teach meteorology to aspiring students at college level and at university level as well.
How to Become a Meteorologist
Meteorology is a profession that one needs to be very passionate about before pursuing it. Only people with scientific minds and loads of patience can become successful meteorologists, so you should take a conscious and well-informed decision about this. One needs to study advanced mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science for this purpose, so this is something that can be set in motion from high school itself.
Pursuing a college education in meteorological studies and atmospheric science is the next logical step, and it goes without saying that such courses need to be completed from a prestigious institute and with flying colors. A master's degree or a doctoral degree can also be pursued thereafter, in order to improve the scope for employment.
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) also has tons of information about the various universities for meteorological studies and about a career in the field of meteorology. Professionals in this field can expect to earn some serious money once they amass enough experience, and this is in addition to deriving complete satisfaction from their work as well. So if you have an interest in the weather and climate changes, then you should seriously consider this profession for yourself.