Meteorology

Meteorology is the branch of science concerned with the atmosphere. It includes the study of atmospheric physics and dynamics, and the two-way interaction between the atmosphere and the earth’s surface. We live at the bottom of an ocean of air 100 km deep. Weather affects everything we do.

Because storms are not bothered by political boundaries, the nations of the world work together in close co-operation to study the atmosphere. Most countries have a meteorological or weather service. In Canada, weather services are provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). ECCC’s weather and climate service is a scientific organization responsible for observing and forecasting the weather, providing climatological information and consultation, and conducting basic and applied atmospheric research. They also observe and forecast ice conditions in Canada’s navigable waters.

A CAREER AS A METEOROLOGIST 

ECCC meteorologists work in three main areas.

Forecasting. In forecast offices across the country or with the Canadian Armed Forces, meteorologist-forecasters use sophisticated numerical models and computer technology to analyze and predict the weather. Meteorologists are also hired at the Canadian Ice Service as ice forecasters and observers.

Meteorological Applications. Meteorologists provide consultation, advice, and development work for clients in government and the private sector. Work activities relate to solving weather- or climate-related problems in agriculture, forestry, air pollution, water management, etc. Meteorologists in the forecast offices act as liaison with emergency managers and the public.

Research. Meteorologists work to eliminate or minimize knowledge gaps about the atmosphere and climate system within ECCC. A graduate degree is typically required.

ECCC is not the only employer or career one can have. Meteorologists are hired within other government and private agencies: In Canada … The Weather Network, provincial (forest fire, environment, transportation, agriculture and utility departments), weather modification companies, broadcast meteorologist (media), aviation industries, wind and solar power industries, environmental or weather consulting firms, emergency agencies, science writers. With a graduate degree (Masters or Ph.D.) specializing in atmospheric science, many more doors open – higher education institutions, government or private research agencies/firms. Opportunities can be much further expanded if you are willing to work abroad in any part of the World – meteorology and climate expertise is needed around the globe! 

QUALIFICATIONS

Meteorologists are required to have a strong background education in physics, mathematics, and meteorology. This prerequisite education is normally obtained through one of the following types of university degree programs:

1) Bachelor of Science (with acceptable courses in meteorology or atmospheric science). Courses must include entry and senior level physics and mathematics courses (30 credit hours, or 10 half-term courses total), atmospheric thermodynamics, atmospheric dynamics, synoptic meteorology and 3 other meteorology related courses.

2) Master of Science (with focus in meteorology or atmospheric science).

3) Bachelor of Science (honours, major, or specialization in physics or engineering physics preferred, with a strong background in applied mathematics) combined with a one-year Diploma or Certificate program in meteorology ¬or simply the 6 atmospheric courses mentioned above.

Where Should You Study?

The Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources offers a four year B.Sc. Degree (major, honours, with Co-Op option) with specialization in atmospheric science through the Department of Environment and Geography. This provides all of the necessary requirements to become an ECCC meteorologist. Alternatively, you can complete an undergraduate degree in Physics and Mathematics at the University of Manitoba, then undertake the 6 atmospheric courses (mentioned above) at Manitoba or a one-year meteorology Certificate program (not offered at Manitoba). Most students choose to take Canada’s only storm chasing course as part of their U. Manitoba program, a unique opportunity. For those interested, the C.H.R. Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources also offers Masters and Ph.D. degrees with specialization in atmospheric and/or climate science.

What Should You Study?

High School Courses

Students who wish to prepare for a professional program in meteorology should have taken the following courses in High School: Pre-Calculus Mathematics and Physics. These courses are essential for study towards a career in meteorology. A type of Geography course is also recommended.

First Year University Courses

A combination of differential & integral calculus, calculus-based physics, linear algebra, statistics, computer science and entry level atmospheric science courses are needed. These courses will provide sufficient background to undertake higher level mathematics/physics and atmospheric science courses. The student is required to meet with an academic advisor in the C.H.R Faculty office prior to registration to ensure they properly proceed with their studies.

Advanced Level Courses

A combination of courses at the 2nd to 3rd year levels in math/physics and 2nd to 4th year courses in atmospheric science are required. The student must have a total of 30 credit hours (or 10 half term courses) of math/physics and atmospheric science courses in: atmospheric thermodynamics, atmospheric dynamics, synoptic meteorology and at least 3 other meteorology related courses. All of these courses are available at the U. Manitoba.