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Scientific or AnalyticSkill Level 5Skill Level 6

Meteorologists forecast the weather and study the atmosphere to improve the understanding of climate. Meteorologists forecast the weather and study the causes of particular weather conditions, using information obtained from the land, sea and upper atmosphere, to improve the understanding of climate.

ANZSCO ID: 234913

Alternative names: Atmospheric Scientist; Weather Forecaster

Specialisations: Future Growth Very Strong

  • Climatologist - A climatologist monitors and studies the climate and the factors that control its variability. A climatologist may produce climate assessments and forecasts of seasonal conditions, or contribute to national and international assessments of climate variability and climate change. Climatologists may also provide relevant climate data to users such as the insurance industry.

  • Hydrometeorologist - A hydrometeorologist provides information on rainfall patterns and intensity in support of the planning and management of land and water resources, and the design of urban drainage systems and dams

  • Meteorological Consultant - A meteorological consultant provides advice and conducts investigations involving the application of meteorology to such fields as agriculture, engineering, architecture, health, tourism, urban planning and design. Weather Station in mountains

  • Research Meteorologist - A research meteorologist develops and tests theories and concepts, and applies the laws of physics to the study of the atmosphere, with the aim of improving forecasts and warnings. This includes the analysis of meteorological data and the running of forecast and global climate models.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • enjoy and have ability in science, especially physics and mathematics - excellent mathematical and computing skills

  • flexible and resourceful

  • be interested in climate and the enviroment

  • the ability to analyse and present complex data

  • an enquiring mind

  • good problem-solving skills

  • interested in the provision of meteorological services to the community

  • Australian citizenship, or the eligibility to apply for Australian citizenship, is required for employment in the Bureau of Meteorology.

Duties and Tasks

Meteorologists may perform the following tasks: Meteorologist at work

  • use and develop scientific techniques to forecast and interpret atmospheric conditions

  • analyse and interpret surface, upper level and other measurements (including satellite images and other remote sensing data about atmospheric conditions)

  • prepare weather forecasts for the public and for specific users such as aviation, marine, defence and emergency services

  • issue warnings for cyclones, storms, gales, floods, frosts and fire danger

  • study climate and identify climatic change

  • work with physicists and engineers to develop observation equipment and distribute information on topics such as air pollution

  • supervise and coordinate the work of other meteorologists, technical officers and meteorological observers

  • carry out weather studies for particular clients.

  • Studies composition, structure and dynamics of the atmosphere, investigating the direction and speed of air movements, air pressure and temperature, humidity and other phenomena.

  • Investigates the nature of solar and terrestrial (infra-red) radiations and effects on the atmosphere.

  • Studies physical nature and properties of solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere, investigating them as the process of cloud formation, precipitation and electrical disturbances.

  • Studies data on atmospheric conditions obtained to prepare weather maps and forecasts for advice to aviation, shipping, agriculture and the general public.

  • Studies climatic conditions by analysing meteorological observations made over extended periods of time, and investigates past and possible future fluctuations in climate.

  • Employs balloons, rockets and artificial earth satellites and such techniques as spectroscopy, hygrometry, daylight and infra-red photography, radar and radio to obtain data on atmospheric conditions, and directs processing of the data.

  • May specialise in a particular area of meteorological science.


Working conditions

Meteorologists in forecasting positions usually work in shifts. Operational meteorologists may work in field station locations throughout Australia and its territories, from the tropics to Antarctica. Others are involved in policy development, administration and training.

Meteorologists usually work for the Bureau of Meteorology, but may also work for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), for universities, state government bodies concerned with environmental policy, or private companies. They usually work regular hours, but may be required to work odd hours if they are working in the field.

Tools and technologies

Meteorologists work mostly on computers, using specialised computer programs that collect and interpret synoptic, dynamic and physical meteorological information. They may also use other programs that undertake climatology, oceanography, satellite or radar data interpretation, or numerical weather prediction. They use radar technology to obtain weather data, computerised drawing tablets to interpret this data, and weather charts, maps and graphs which they consult and interpret.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a meteorologist you usually need to complete a Bachelor of Science, majoring in mathematics and physics.

You must also be an Australian citizen, or permanent resident who is applying for citizenship.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is the major employer of meteorologists. A few positions are occasionally available in private companies, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), universities and state or territory government bodies (mainly environmental agencies).

Most meteorologists are employed in capital cities, but some are employed at major airports and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bases outside capital cities and further afield (Antarctica, for example). There is also a small but increasing number of meteorological consultants and practitioners who provide a private consultancy service to engineers and architects.

Competition for the few positions offered each year is very strong. Holding a higher degree qualification may be an advantage. Those who successfully complete BOM's training course [9 - 10 months] are employed in the bureau's head office in Melbourne or in a capital city regional forecasting centre. Upon successful completion of the BOM's training course, you are awarded the nationally accredited Graduate Diploma in Meteorology.  Subsequent promotion is based on ability and on positions becoming available. Vacancies are usually advertised on the BOM website, online job websites and through universities during March and April for training courses that commence in late January/February.


Did You Know ?

* The British Meteorological Office (now Met Office) was founded in 1854 as a very small department in the Board of Trade, under Captain Robert FitzRoy (famous for commanding HMS Beagle on Charles Darwin's historic expedition). It was set up to provide meteorological and sea current information to mariners.

* On January 11, 1954, George Cowling of the Met Office became the first person to present a weather forecast on British television. The broadcast was live and lasted for five whole minutes. The Radio Times for that week highlighted the new service:

"From Monday onwards the television weather report and forecast will be presented by a Meteorological Office forecaster who will explain and comment on the charts shown. The change is designed to stress the continuity of the reports provided; the forecaster will show, for example, how the weather expected tomorrow is conditioned by the weather experienced today."

(Source: BBC - The History of TV weather forecasts )

* 2000 to 2009 has been the warmest decade recorded since 1850. The hottest year on record was 2007.

* In 1783, Horace Benedict de Saussure of Geneva, Switzerland, built the first hygrometer (an instrument used for measuring relative humidity) by using human hair to measure air dampness.

* In 1840, the electric telegraph enabled the real time reporting of accurate weather conditions globally.

* In 1959, the first weather satellite was placed into orbit.

* In the 1960’s, computers made it possible for meteorologists to calculate weather changes faster, more accurately, and for longer periods.

* The lowest surface temperature recorded was in Vostok, Antarctica: -89°C (-129°F) on 21 July 1983; the highest temperature recorded was in El Azizia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya: 57.8°C (136.4°F) on 13 September 1922.

(Source: Facts About Weather & Climate)

George Cowling
On January 11, 1954, George Cowling presented the first 'in vision' weather forecast on the BBC.


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