Meteorologists are scientists who study and work in the field of meteorology.[1] Those who study meteorological phenomena are meteorologist in research while those using mathematical models and knowledge to prepare daily weather forecast are called weather forecasters or operational meteorologists.[2]

Meteorologist studying tornadoes during VORTEX projects.
SynonymsWeather forecaster
Activity sectors
Education required
Minimum B.Sc. in meteorology
Fields of
Research, teaching and operational

They work in government agencies, private consulting and research services, industrial enterprises, utilities, radio and television stations, and in education. Not to be confused with weather presenters who are most often journalists presenting the weather forecast in the media, having just minimal training in meteorology.


Meteorologists study the Earth's atmosphere and its interactions with the Earth's surface, the oceans and the biosphere. Their knowledge of applied mathematics and physics allows them to understand the full range of atmospheric phenomena, from snowflake formation to the Earth's general climate.[3]

Research meteorologists are specialized in areas like:[3]

  • Climatology to estimate the various components of the climate and their variability to determine, for example, the wind potential of a given region or global warming.
  • Air quality where they are interested in the phenomena of transport, transformation and dispersion of atmospheric pollutants and may be called upon to design scenarios for the reduction of polluting emissions.
  • Atmospheric convection to refine knowledge of the structure and forces involved in tropical cyclones, thunderstorms and mid-latitude storms;
  • The modeling of the atmosphere and the development of numerical weather prediction.

Operational meteorologists, also known as forecasters:[3][4]

  • Collect weather data in some country, but it is mostly done by technicians elsewhere.
  • Analyze data and numerical weather prediction model outputs to prepare daily weather forecasts.
  • Provide weather advice and guidance to private or governmental users.
  • Collaborate with the researchers for integrating science and technology into the forecast process, in particular for indices and model outputs, for weather-dependent users such as farming, forestry, aviation, maritime shipping and fisheries, etc...

Meteorologists can also be consultants for private firms in studies for projets involving weather phenomena such as windfarms, tornado protection, etc... They finally can be weather presenters in the medias (radio, TV, internet).


To become a meteorologist, a person must take at least one undergraduate university degree in meteorology.[3] For researchers, this training continues with higher education, while for forecasters, each country has its own way of training.[3] For example, the Meteorological Service of Canada and UK Met Office have their own training course after the university, while Météo-France takes charge of all the training once the person has passed the entrance examination at the National School of Meteorology after High School.[5] In United States, forecasters are hired by the National Weather Service or private firms after university, and receive on-the-job training, while researchers are hired according to their expertise.[6]

In some countries there is a third way for weather presenters, such as in United States, where graduate in meteorology and communication at the college or university level can be hired by medias.

Some known meteorologists

  • Francis Beaufort, inventor of the wind scale that bears his name.[7]
  • Vilhelm Bjerknes, founder of modern meteorology who created the Bergen School of Meteorology, where researchers defined the frontal theory and cyclogenesis of mid-latitudes storms.[8]
  • Jacob Bjerknes, son of the former, who attended the Norwegian school and who studied the El Niño phenomenon. He linked the latter to the Southern Oscillation.
  • George Hadley, first to introduce the effect of the rotation of the Earth in the explanation of the trade winds and atmospheric circulation.
  • Sverre Petterssen, member of the Norwegian School of Meteorology and later one of the three team leaders of James Stagg for the Normandy landings.
  • James Stagg, RAF meteorologist who was responsible for three teams of meteorologists predicting a lull for June 6, 1944, which allowed the landings in Normandy.


  1. Glickman, Todd S. (June 2009). Meteorologist (electronic). Meteorology Glossary (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: American Meteorological Society. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  2. Glickman, Todd S. (June 2009). Weather forecaster (electronic). Meteorology Glossary (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: American Meteorological Society. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  3. "Meteorologist: Job Description". 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  4. National Weather Service (2019). NOAA (ed.). "Careers in Meteorology". Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  5. "Admission et concours" (in French). Météo-France. 2016. Retrieved November 9, 2019. Ce concours peut se passer après le lycée, pour le grade de technicien ou après une licence ou des classes préparatoires pour devenir ingénieur. Le candidat qui a réussi le concours peut même être payé pendant ses études s'il travaille à terme pour Météo-France pendant 10 ans. Il a le statut de fonctionnaire.
  6. "Careers in the National Weather Service". NWS JetStream. NOAA. 2019. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  7. Raymond., Reding,. Beaufort : l'amiral du vent : une vie de Sir Francis Beaufort (1774-1857) (in French). ISBN 9782361995591. OCLC 1013596077.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  8. Robert Marc, Friedman (1993). Appropriating the weather : Vilhelm Bjerknes and the construction of a modern meteorology. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801481604. OCLC 30264429.
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