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Atmospheric Scientist

Atmospheric Science at work. Atmospheric science is the study of the physics and chemistry of gases, clouds, and aerosols that surround the planetary bodies of the solar system.

Research in atmospheric science focuses upon such areas as:

  • Climatology. the study of long-term weather and temperature trends,
  • Dynamic meteorology. the study of the motions of the atmosphere,
  • Cloud Physics: the formation and evolution of clouds and precipitation,
  • Atmospheric chemistry: the study of atmospheric chemical reactions,
  • Oceanography: the study of the Earth's oceans and how they affect the atmosphere.
Some atmospheric scientists study the atmospheres of the planets in our solar system, while others study the Earth's atmosphere.

Atmospheric scientists may work in the following areas: field research, laboratory studies and/or computer analysis and modeling. Good communication skills (oral and written) are necessary as atmospheric scientists attend conferences and workshops, where they share their results with other researchers. They write papers and technical reports detailing the results of their research, give progress reports, and disseminate information on satellite data.

The majority of atmospheric scientists in the United States work for the Federal Government. The largest number of civilian atmospheric scientists work for the National Weather Service and other branches of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy.

Atmospheric scientists may also be found working for private weather services, television and radio stations, commercial airlines, state governments, colleges and universities, public utilities, consulting firms, and aircraft and instrument manufacturing companies. They often work in groups where their different skills and backgrounds can be combined to study specific scientific questions such as the effects of aircraft emissions on the atmosphere. These multidisciplinary teams usually include people in other related careers such as aerospace engineers, electronics engineers, computer and communications technicians, photographers, science writers, data systems analysts, astronauts, pilots, astronomers, physicists, geologists, oceanographers, and biologists

Updated: January 22, 2003