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What is a Meteorologist?

By J.Gunsch
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A meteorologist is probably best known for weather forecasting, but the weather reports that come through media such as radio and televisions broadcasts or the newspaper and the Internet are only a fraction of what this professional actually does. Meteorology encompasses scientific research and education that extends to the environment, transportation, and many other methods for improving quality of life such as studying hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes etc.

Some meteorologists works in the field of atmospheric research, and they can, among other things, discern the impact of environmental crisis such as global warming. With highly sensitive equipment, they are able to study past, present, and future weather conditions and how they contribute to or reduce the effects of global warming. For example, an atmospheric research meteorologist might look at how atmospheric conditions change the polar ice caps which in turn release greenhouse gases creating a cyclic process of warming.

Others work in the field of transportation safety and architecture, especially that concerning air travel. Through research and engineering, meteorologists have developed equipment that is used in airports to detect microbursts or damaging winds that allow for safer air travel.

A meteorologist may also work as a consultant in architectural design for airports as well as many other construction operations. For example, constructing a commercial building will require the help of a weather expert in deciding what type of heating and cooling systems should be installed as well as the necessary structural integrity of the building designed to hold up against inclement weather.

Many meteorologists choose to share their knowledge with others and enjoy a career in teaching. They may teach atmospheric science from first year college courses all the way up to graduate programs. In junior and senior high school, meteorology is usually combined with natural science courses such as earth science.

Today, the science of meteorology is highly accurate thanks to the advances in technology. People who work in this field typically rely on the use of instrumental aircraft, satellites, radar, and computers to gather and analyze atmospheric data. Because of its accuracy and importance in environmental sciences, meteorology is a field growing very quickly, and many universities are offering intensive programs in it.

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Discussion Comments
By anon974253 — On Oct 16, 2014

@anon81705: No, meteorologists do more than that. Why, if it weren't for them and technology now, we'd be dead!

By kentuckycat — On Jun 06, 2012

@Emilski - I think your comment about being able to find the weather anywhere also shows the need for weather anchors to have evolved in their capacities. To be honest, their jobs really aren't that important anymore as far as telling people what the weather will be like. Most the time, people already know the weather from the internet.

Like others have mentioned, weatherman are still important as a public relations person with the network and serving as a break from what is usually depressing news. I remember a couple of years ago, our local anchor wore a green suit on St. Patrick's Day that ended up blending with the green screen that the maps are shown on, so he just looked like a floating head.

Besides that, I think the real important role weathermen serve is providing information during storms. There are a lot of people who are very afraid of storms, and it helps to have someone on the TV who can either calm your nerves or alert you about when you actually need to take cover.

By JimmyT — On Jun 05, 2012

@matthewc23 - I completely agree. I know I have been at various functions when the local weatherman has shown up, and there are people who actually come up and ask for autographs.

I think being someone who interacts well with the community is a huge part of being a meteorologist nowadays. Not even on the local level but national as well. For as long as I can remember, it seems like the weathermen are always the most popular people on the morning shows. I figure most people would think of Al Roker when you consider a famous meteorologist, but there was also Willard Scott before him.

I think weather anchors in general tend to be well-liked because they typically don't report on sad or depressing stories like the main story anchors. They are also able to joke around and make the program more enjoyable to watch.

By matthewc23 — On Jun 05, 2012

@Emilski - I would agree that the job of a meteorologist isn't as "impactful" as it used to be, but I wouldn't say they are any less important. I just think the role of a meteorologist has changed over the years.

I have noticed on my local stations that the meteorologists have become more associated with public appearances than in the past. They have sort of taken over as the face of the station during various events. While the main anchors are usually in the station to report on the news, meteorologists can go out and about in the community and interact with people. At least in my experience, meteorologists are always sort of treated like minor celebrities whenever they are spotted around town.

By Emilski — On Jun 04, 2012

@wavy58 - Good point about television being only a small portion of a meteorologist's daily routine. Although he or she may only be seen for a short period during a broadcast, I would say that they have much more research to do compared to the other broadcasters. The main anchors just have to understand the stories they are going to report on, and the sports person just has to check scores and keep up with what is going on in the sports world. Although a lot of anchors have a communications degree, a meteorologist is the only person that absolutely needs a degree to do what they do.

That being said, I'm not sure the job of a meteorologist is as important as it used to be. Before the days of computers, having the meteorologist job on the local TV station meant you were often people's sole source of weather information, and you determined how people planned out their weeks. Now, I can get current and future weather conditions for practically every city in the world with a few mouse clicks.

By lighth0se33 — On Jun 03, 2012

Meteorologists who will be on live broadcasts need to have a certain demeanor. It helps if they can reassure the public whenever possible that a storm does not pose a terrible threat, but it is also good that they let people know when they seriously need to take shelter.

I know a couple of meteorologists, and one is always trying to ease people’s minds. We live in tornado alley, so people are always on edge when thunderstorms form. Whenever these storms are not going to be tornadic, the meteorologist makes sure to emphasize that point.

Another meteorologist freaks out whenever there is any potential of bad weather whatsoever. He actually talks faster and stumbles over his words. Watching him during a storm is nerve wracking, and I’m always glad when the other guy is on duty instead.

By Oceana — On Jun 03, 2012

I remember when I was in the fourth grade and a meteorologist came to speak in my science class. We were studying the weather portion of our science book, and the teacher thought that the meteorologist had information on the topic that would be much more useful than her just reading from a textbook.

He spoke about air pressure and illustrated everything on the blackboard. He explained how storms are formed and what the conditions have to be like in order for a tornado to occur.

He spoke in such a way that we could all understand it. Though he had a degree and knew complicated stuff about meteorology, he could still break it down in simple terms for us.

By wavy58 — On Jun 02, 2012

@shell4life - I would think that jobs like recommending HVAC systems for buildings could be done on a freelance basis. So probably, if a meteorologist working for a TV station has any spare time, he could get side jobs like this without any conflicts of interest involving his contract with the station.

TV meteorologists usually work every day, but they are only on air for a few minutes during each newscast. So, they must spend the rest of the day doing something.

I’m sure they have to look at weather data to come up with their forecasts, so they spend part of the day observing that. However, I would think that would still leave them with enough free time to pursue other projects.

By shell4life — On Jun 02, 2012

I had no idea that a meteorologist career encompassed so much! I really thought all they did was study weather patterns to be able to come up with forecasts.

I really didn’t think they would be involved in planning the construction of buildings. Apparently, there is so much more that a trained meteorologist can do than be on the local television station every night.

I wonder if the meteorologists at my local television station do extensive research when they are not at work. I am curious about whether they have been involved in other projects on the side.

By anon81705 — On May 03, 2010

So this is basically saying that a Meteorologist is a scientist who forecasts earthquakes and the weather?

By anon23819 — On Jan 03, 2009

What is the importance of work of meteorologist?

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