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What is an Atmospheric Scientist?

An Atmospheric Scientist is a specialized type of Scientist. Also known as: Climatologist.

An atmospheric scientist (or climatologist) studies the scientific and mathematical aspects of the earth's atmosphere, climate and weather. They develop reports, forecasts, and climate change research from their analysis of weather and climate data. Most atmospheric scientists work indoors in weather stations, offices, or laboratories. Occasionally, they do fieldwork, which means working outdoors to examine the weather.

What does an Atmospheric Scientist do?

An atmospheric scientist typically does the following:

  • Measures temperature, air pressure, and other properties of the atmosphere
  • Develops and uses computer models that analyze data about the atmosphere (also called meteorological data)
  • Produces weather maps and graphics
  • Reports current weather conditions
  • Prepares long- and short-term weather forecasts using sophisticated computer and mathematical models, satellite and radar data
  • Issues warnings to protect life and property during severe weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flash floods

An atmospheric scientist uses highly developed instruments and computer programs to do their jobs. For example, they use weather balloons, radar systems, satellites, and sensors to monitor the weather and collect data. The data they collect and analyze are critical to understanding air pollution, drought, loss of the ozone layer, and other problems. They also use graphics software to illustrate their forecasts and reports.

Many atmospheric scientists work with scientists and professionals in other fields to help solve problems in areas such as commerce, energy, transportation, agriculture, and the environment. For example, some work on teams with other scientists and engineers to find the best locations for new wind farms, which are groups of wind turbines used to generate electricity. Others work closely with hydrologists to monitor the impact climate change has on water supplies and to manage water resources.

What is the workplace of an Atmospheric Scientist like?

Atmospheric scientists involved in research often work in offices and laboratories, but they may travel frequently to collect data in the field and to observe weather events, such as tornadoes, up close. They watch actual weather conditions from the ground or from an aircraft. Atmospheric scientists who work in private industry may have to travel to meet with clients or to gather information in the field. For example, forensic meteorologists may need to collect information from the scene of an accident as part of their investigation.

How can I become an Atmospheric Scientist?

Atmospheric scientists typically need a bachelor’s degree, either in atmospheric science or a related scientific field. However, many schools also offer atmospheric science courses through other departments, such as physics and geosciences. When considering colleges, prospective students should make certain that the colleges offer those courses required by the federal government and other employers as one of their hiring requirements.

Course requirements, in addition to courses in meteorology and atmospheric science, usually include advanced courses in physics and mathematics. Classes in computer programming are important because many atmospheric scientists have to write and edit the computer software programs that produce forecasts. Students should also take courses in subjects that are relevant to their desired area of specialization. For example, those who wish to become broadcast meteorologists for radio or television stations should develop excellent speaking skills through courses in speech, journalism, and related fields.

Atmospheric scientists who work in research usually need a master’s degree at a minimum, and preferably a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences or a related field. Most graduate programs do not require prospective students to have a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; an undergraduate degree in mathematics, physics, or engineering provides excellent preparation for graduate study in atmospheric science.

In addition to advanced meteorological coursework, graduate students take courses in other disciplines, such as oceanography and geophysics. Although it is not necessary, a post-graduate degree in atmospheric science can greatly enhance employment opportunities, pay, and advancement potential for meteorologists in government and private industry. A master’s degree in business administration (MBA) may be useful for meteorologists interested in working in private industry as consultants who help firms make important business decisions on the basis of their forecasts.



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Further Reading

  • Knupp Named UAH’s Top Researcher

    A professor of atmospheric science, Knupp leads the university’s severe weather research group, studying lightning, tornadoes, thunderstorms, gust fronts, dry lines, land-falling hurricanes, topographic effects, blizzards and other such things.

  • Atmospheric And Space Scientists Overview

    Studying atmosphere, the blanket of air that covers the Earth, means that atmospheric and space scientists may learn how to forecast weather as well as interpret and understand trends in weather and climate. Atmospheric and space scientists can also use these skills to analyze air-pollution, agriculture, ozone depletion or global warming.

  • Atmospheric Scientist And Meteorologist Job Description

    Atmospheric scientists and meteorologists have the answer to one of the most asked questions in day-to-day life: What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow? What’s more, atmospheric scientists and meteorologists understand why storms and other weather patterns come our way.

  • Atmospheric Scientist With National Weather Service Is Expert On Chemtrails

    Bill Nichols is an Atmospheric Scientist employed with the National Weather Service (NWS) for the past 18 years.

  • Atmospheric Scientist Studies Climate Change And Develops Future Researchers

    Anyah was drawn to the study of climate science as a way to create understanding between the effects of weather and society.

  • Salary For Atmospheric And Space Scientists

    Using their knowledge of climate theory, mathematics, and physics, atmospheric and space scientists create complex computer models to study climate phenomena and provide meteorlogical predictions.

  • What Does An Atmospheric Scientist Do?

    An atmospheric scientist is an individual who studies the Earth's atmosphere, which is the layer of gases that surrounds the planet and is essential for the existence of all life on Earth.

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