Atmospheric Scientist

Climate change is a global concern resulting in extreme weather patterns that impact human wellbeing, livelihoods and environmental integrity. Water and food security, health, built and natural infrastructure and ecosystem services are all at risk of changing climate. Understanding atmospheric changes supports developing strategies for mitigating, adapting and building resilience to the effects of climate change. Atmospheric science involves the study of the earth’s atmosphere and its physical processes.

Atmospheric scientists study atmospheric conditions and phenomena to better understand climate patterns and their effects and develop forecasts of where and when these events are expected to occur. They collect and compile data from the field and assist in the development of new data collection instruments. Some can advise stakeholders on risks or opportunities caused by weather events and climate change such as flash floods and droughts.

Atmospheric scientists spend most of their time in an office environment, sometimes travelling to gather field information or liaising with varied professionals addressing climate impacts in areas of energy and agriculture, for example.

Skills

Atmospheric scientists must have a comprehensive knowledge of atmospheric and climate patterns, trends and processes. Additional  required skills include:

  • Mathematical and statistical ability to develop forecast models
  • Exceptional analytical ability
  • Critical-thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to communicate complex atmospheric concepts

Tasks

Research seasonal and ocean forecasting and climate predictions

Monitor climate variability and change 

Develop and improve numerical and computer models to predict atmospheric processes

Report and advise on significant atmospheric research findings

Studies

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Meteorology at UP

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Ocean and Atmosphere Science at UCT

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geography specialising in Atmospheric Science at all universities

Employers

National, provincial and local government.

NGOs and private consultancies.

Research institutions.

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