8 reasons meteorology is a career path you don't want to ignore
Do you find weather forecast fascinating? Do you love to watch the path of a storm or learn about the conditions that lead to a hurricane? If the weather and all things atmospheric fascinate you and you’re looking for an engaging career path with many high-paying job opportunities, a career in meteorology may be a great fit.
Join the dynamic and engaging field of meteorology with a degree from Central Michigan University.Apply now
What is meteorology?
The Oxford Dictionary defines meteorology as “The branch of science concerned with the processes and phenomena of the atmosphere, especially as a means of forecasting the weather.”
In other words, meteorology is the scientific study of the layer of gases around the earth that make life possible and shield us from harmful radiation coming from the sun. This layer is where processes that make up our weather occur and using this information, meteorologists can forecast the expected weather for the future.
Why study meteorology?
Predicting the weather is important because weather phenomena can have far-reaching consequences. Severe storms require immediate attention, and meteorological study ensures that the local community can get help. But predicting storms is just one of the benefits of studying meteorology.
What does a meteorologist study? A meteorology program will explore atmospheric conditions, common weather patterns and how to read radar to assist with weather predictions. Here are some of the perks you can enjoy if you study meteorology.
1. Understanding the atmosphere
The atmosphere is the most important factor in weather conditions. In fact, the “weather” of an area is the condition of the atmosphere at a given point in time. Various aspects of the atmosphere, including moisture levels, atmospheric pressure, temperature and wind, all make up the weather.
The atmosphere helps protect the Earth by keeping the temperature consistent. It traps greenhouse gases, so the air stays warmer. Understanding the atmosphere and how changes in atmospheric conditions affect weather is a key aspect of predicting and understanding the weather.
When you study meteorology, you will begin with a detailed study and understanding of the atmosphere, foundational to understanding and predicting the weather.
2. Weather forecasting
Weather forecasting is the ability to predict what is likely to happen with the weather based on atmospheric conditions. It is through weather forecasting that communities and individuals can take the necessary precautions when weather problems are on the horizon. Weather forecasting also helps people plan for outdoor activities and assists farmers in their work.
Meteorologists are scientists who study meteorology and spend their days forecasting the weather. While they may have a public face, such as on the TV or radio, their primary role is studying weather patterns and atmospheric conditions to make educated predictions.
Forecasting is typically made in one of four ways. These include:
- Short-range – Short-range forecasts are forecasted from one to seven days before the date.
- Medium-range – This forecast is for one to four weeks before the date, and it’s less accurate than short-range.
- Long-range forecasts – These predictions are for one month to a year ahead of time.
- Storm forecasting – Storm forecasting involves predicting and warning about severe weather events.
A meteorologist will use several tools to predict the weather, including satellite data, Doppler radar, supercomputers and traditional weather instruments, like anemometers, hygrometers and rain gauges, to assist in these predictions.
3. Climate studies
Climate studies is another area of meteorology that has a far-reaching impact. In climate studies, you won’t be studying just the weather. You’ll also be studying changes and predictions involving the climate.
Understanding the climate helps with long-range forecasts. By understanding climate changes, meteorologists can predict precipitation amounts or the rise and fall of sea level. Climate studies also help with the prediction of severe weather events and the overall impact of the climate on local wildlife.
4. Aviation and aerospace industry
The aviation and aerospace industry must understand weather and climate to make wise choices. Meteorologists assist this industry by predicting storms that would impact the safety of air travel. They can also predict and measure things like wind speed and temperature that may not affect people on the ground but will affect aircraft or spacecraft.
Most major weather events impact aviation. Icing on plane wings and windshields can affect the ability to fly. Turbulence can make a flight challenging for both pilots and passengers. Atmospheric conditions impact the best height for a flight. Rain, snow and hail may just be an annoyance on the ground, but they can make hazardous flying conditions. Wind direction and speed impact how much fuel a plane needs to reach its destination and the speed it must travel to fly safely.
In this industry, forecasting the weather is a major decision-making factor. Not only will weather determine if planes can take off, but it will also determine flight patterns as pilots make decisions to circumvent weather events.
5. Agriculture and water resources
The agricultural industry must know about precipitation levels to plan for growing crops. Temperature also directly impacts the agricultural world, as farmers must wait to plant until after the risk of a hard freeze. Unexpected weather events may make it necessary to protect crops from damage.
Meteorologists have a role to play in managing water resources for the agricultural industry. They monitor the local weather for signs of drought and make suggestions to local farmers about what they need to do to protect their water resources when rain is scarce.
6. Natural disasters
Natural disasters can be difficult to predict, but some, like hurricanes and tornadoes, are directly connected to the atmosphere and weather. Thus, meteorologists are essential to giving people enough warning to avoid becoming a victim. When meteorologists indicate the conditions are right for a hurricane, tornado or severe thunderstorm, they can put out a warning to the local community to take shelter. For some events, like hurricanes, they can even send out evacuation warnings that give people time to get to safety before the storm hits.
In the winter, meteorologists can predict snow and ice storms. Since these sometimes cause power outages or difficulties with travel, the knowledge that they are imminent is vital.
7. Research and development
The meteorology world is constantly looking for new ways to predict the weather with greater accuracy. Thus, research and development are major parts of this career field. In fact, the National Weather Service has an entire section dedicated to research and development to create tools and models to predict the weather with greater accuracy. Some current areas of study in research and development include:
- Developing better tools for visualizing weather event possibilities.
- Improving real-time attenuation data used in satellite communication in meteorology.
- Using weather forecasts to improve indoor climate control and make buildings more energy efficient.
- Improving alert systems to get the word out to more people when weather events occur.
- The impact of weather on aviation and improvements to predictions that affect the airline industry.
This is one area where the world of meteorology is constantly changing and growing, which makes studying meteorology exciting.
8. Career opportunities
Why study meteorology? Because this field gives you many career opportunities. According to the National Weather Service, you can pursue a career as a:
- Private-Sector Meteorologist – Meteorologists research climate conditions and predict the weather. Some have a public front as they present their findings on the TV or radio, but others work behind the scenes.
- Research Meteorologist – These weather experts help with research and development projects in meteorology.
- NOAA Storm Predictor -The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the largest employer of meteorologists in the nation, and they need trained storm predictors to help disseminate the necessary warnings when storms are coming.
- Aviation Meteorologist – These meteorologists work with airlines and airports to predict weather patterns that impact flight plans.
- Professor – Advanced education in meteorology would provide the opportunity to teach meteorology at the college level.
With so many potential career paths, this could be a financially rewarding path to consider.
What degree do you need to be a meteorologist?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum degree needed to become an atmospheric scientist, which includes a meteorologist, is a bachelor’s degree. Central Michigan University has a robust meteorology program with a state-of-the-art weather station to give you hands-on experience observing, recording and predicting the weather. This program is aligned with the National Weather Service’s requirements, which is the highest accreditation level available for undergraduate meteorology programs. Contact our team today to learn more about how you can partner with CMU to enter the exciting, ever-changing world of meteorology.