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Meteorologist: Job description

Meteorologists study the causes of particular weather conditions using information obtained from the land, sea and upper atmosphere.

They use computerised and mathematical models to make short and long-range forecasts concerning weather and climate patterns. A variety of organisations use meteorological forecasts including:

  • transport services, particularly air and sea travel;
  • the shipping and sea fishing industries and sailing organisations;
  • the armed forces;
  • government services, e.g. for advice on climate change policy;
  • farmers;
  • public services;
  • the media;
  • industry and retail businesses;
  • insurance companies;
  • health services.

In addition to forecasting, meteorologists study the impact of weather on the environment and conduct research into weather patterns, climate change and models of weather prediction.

Typical work activities

A meteorologist's work falls into the two main categories of forecasting and research.

In weather forecasting, common tasks include:

  • collecting data from satellite images, radar, remote sensors and weather stations all over the world;
  • measuring factors such as air pressure, temperature and humidity at various atmospheric levels;
  • analysing and presenting this information to customers in the form of weather briefings;
  • coding weather reports for transmission over international networks;
  • applying physical and mathematical relationships and sophisticated computer models to make short and long-range weather forecasts;
  • liaising with colleagues and clients from around the country and worldwide.

In research, work that may be carried out includes:

  • investigating subjects such as airflow in the lowest kilometre of the atmosphere, the physics of clouds and precipitation, or global climate change;
  • developing and improving numerical and computer models to predict atmospheric processes and improve the accuracy of forecasts;
  • monitoring climate variability and change;
  • researching seasonal forecasting, ocean forecasting and climate prediction;
  • monitoring and investigating changes in the stratosphere (10-50km above the Earth), including the ozone layer;
  • applying the results of research in order, for example, to give flood warnings or estimate the likely effects of global warming.

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Written by AGCAS editors
November 2013

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