Meteorology is the branch of science that deals with the atmosphere of a planet, particularly the Earth. It is based on accurate measurement of various atmospheric conditions, for example wind speed and direction, air pressure, temperature, humidity and precipitation such as rain or snow. Meteorologists combine the data collected from many geographical locations into weather maps to show, for example, isobars and fronts. From these they are able to predict the weather and possible severe and destructive systems such as hurricanes, floods and heatwaves, for up to ten days. However, as we are all aware, weather forecasting is notoriously difficult and weather fronts have a habit of moving more slowly - or faster - than expected!
Aristotle is considered to be the founder of this branch of science. In 350BC he wrote Meteorology and nobody added anything significant to his findings for almost 2000 years. During the rule of the Roman Empire the beginnings of what we now know about climates were founded and by the 9th Century the tidal systems and their relation to temperature and the moon was discovered. Meteorology is certainly not a new science. It is wide ranging and has many related subjects such as oceanography, climate studies, geography and environmental science.
Example areas of study
Meteorology can be studied as a module in a number of courses in related science degrees, but specific meteorology courses are available. The list below is intended as a guide to the kind of topics that you may be able to study but it is important to check with the institutions themselves that the focus of the course matches your interests.
- Weather systems
- Dynamical systems
- Atmospheric and ocean dynamics
- Atmospheric pollution and climate change
- Natural Hazards
- Physical, dynamical and applied meteorology
- Global circulation
- Clouds, radiation and climate
- Surface energy
- Environmental sciences
- Geology and soil science
- Hydrology and hydrodynamics
- Environmental and atmospheric physics
- Mathematics and numerical methods
- Computer modelling
- Sustainable development
- Remote sensing
- Transport and the environment
- Weather prediction
Graduates can work as specialist meteorologists, for example, as weather forecasters for the UK Met Office, for private weather forecasting companies, in oil exploration or with companies providing meteorological services and also in research. Many go on to postgraduate study.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for courses in meteorology vary a little and it is important to check them with the institutions before you submit your application. The list below will give you an idea of the grades and qualifications that you may be expected to have.
- UCAS Tariff:280 - 320 points including mathematics and physics in most cases
- A-level: BBC - ABB including mathematics and physics in most cases
- SQA Highers: BBBB - AABB including mathematics and physics in most cases
- SQA Advanced Highers: BBC - ABB including mathematics and physics in most cases
- Irish Leaving Certificates: BBBBB - AABBB including mathematics and physics is most cases
- International Baccalaureate: 29 - 32 points including relevant science subjects
- European Baccalaureate: 65 - 70% including mathematics and physics
- BTEC National Diploma: DDM - DDD in a relevant subject. Sometimes only considered in conjunction with other qualifications
For your application or interview, evidence of the following could be useful:
- Work experience/work shadowing with meteorologists, for example in the Met office or in weather centres
- Details of school-based (or your own) weather observations, weather data collections or meteorological experiments
- Further information on meteorology is available from The Met Office
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk