Climatologists study "trends in the climate, which can affect energy usage, food production, survival of endangered species, and even human health and life expectancy,” according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. They work in government agencies, as private consultants and for news services. They also teach and conduct research at universities. Climatology is important for understanding climate change and how to adapt to it. Most climatology jobs require a master’s or doctoral degree.
High School Classes
South Carolina DNR suggests there are high school classes that can set an interested student on the path to a degree in climatology. A strong background in math and physics is the foundation for entry into any college program in climatology, so take as much high school geometry, algebra and calculus as is available. In terms of science, chemistry, biology and any of the natural sciences are important. The DNR also suggests getting a broad based education, so take economics, speech and humanities courses like English.
College course work for climatology involves different types of geography. At Atlantic International University, undergraduates study physical geography -- the study of land masses and forms and human geography -- looking at how humans make use of land types. Geography course work also includes cartography (map-making), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), computerized map-making and geographic field methods, which trains climatologists how to work with geography out in the real world.
Extensive study of climate science is also required. This includes courses like meteorology, which is the study of current weather patterns, and courses on microclimateological measurements, how to evaluate unique climates within larger climate systems, severe storm forecasting and atmospheric thermodynamics. Electives in climate science can include areas of specific interest such as oceanography and environmental change.
In addition to math, physics, geography and climate science, students of climatology also take classes in different scientific methodologies. In these courses, students learn how to conduct scientific research. Modeling teaches how to use current data to compute future predicted outcomes, remote sensing teaches how to gather data using monitors like satellites and quantitative geography teaches statistical analysis of geographic data. As well, most colleges require a research methods class.
Neva Knott is an environmental journalist and photographer living in Olympia, Wash. In 1991, she co-founded "Plazm" magazine, an arts, design and culture publication based in Portland, Ore. Knott is also an English teacher and a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.