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Towards Reliable, Responsive and High Quality Weather and Climate Services in Malawi

  BE WISE, BE WEATHERWISE  


How To Become A Meteorologist

1. Introduction
The term Weather Expert currently being used in Malawi in referring to the weatherman is not a widely used name, but was coined here in Malawi by the mass media according to the way they look at the people who do weather forecasting. The profession of monitoring and understanding weather and climate forecasts is formally called Meteorology. The men and women behind the profession are formally called Meteorologists.
2. Definition of Meteorology

The word meteorology is derived from the Greek word meteors, meaning lofty or elevated and logos meaning study or learning. Meteorology therefore means the study of that which takes place in the atmosphere and underlying surface.

3. How does one become a Meteorologist?

From the definition, meteorology is a science of the atmosphere and so the prerequisite for the job is a flare for science. A good combination of Mathematics and Physics is the main prerequisite for the job.

There are three levels of entry into the profession. Straight from secondary school, someone with Mathematics and Physical Science at Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) level is recruited as a weather observer. This is the person who is responsible for weather monitoring, a function which is an indispensable input into weather forecasting. On recruitment the person is given a six-month training in meteorological observations, coding, plotting, data collection and transmission, and meteorological instrumentation. If the recruit has good credits in Mathematics and Physical Science, at MSCE he or she is considered for a two year Diploma course in weather forecasting at any one of World Meteorological Organisation's regional training centres in Africa such as Nairobi in Kenya or Lagos in Nigeria.

The second entry level is for on with GCE advanced lever ( A level) in Mathematics and Physics. The person is sent straight for the diploma in meteorology. Thereafter, depending on the strength of the A level the fellow is also considered for a Bachelor of Science Degree course in Meteorology, a course that is attainable abroad.

The third entry point is at graduate level. Bachelor of Science graduates from the University of Malawi majoring in Mathematics and Physics are recruited ad sent for a postgraduate diploma in meteorology abroad. This is an intensive ten-month course, which actually demands the Mathematics, and Physics mentioned earlier on. After this diploma course the recruit is given on the job training.

At both diploma and bachelor s degree level the main subjects are Dynamic, Physical and Synoptic Meteorology, which are combined with Mathematics, Physical and Statistics phasing out gradually during the third year for BSc, when meteorology now becomes the major subjects.

4. Further studies

After the initial the fellows are supposed to work for sometime to gain experience before they are considered for further training for higher degrees such as Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). This is where specialisation starts. Fellows are free to opt for any of the several areas in meteorology such as Dynamic Meteorology, Agricultural Meteorology, Climatology and Hydrometeorology.

In recent years training of Meteorologists has been done in the United Kingdom United States of America, Australia, Ireland, India, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.

5. Section in Meteorological Service

In the Malawi Meteorological Service staff work in the various sections such as Monitoring, Prediction, Aviation Weather Services, ~ Climatological Service and Public ~Weather Services which includes television weather presentation.

6. International Relationship

Meteorologists also participate in international meteorological issues such as climate change, global warming, ozone depletion, desertification, regional drought monitoring and air pollution. Some have had chances to be attached at specialised meteorological centres such as Climate Prediction Centre in Washington DC, African Centre for Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) in Niger, and Drought Monitoring centres in Nairobi and Harare.

7. Employer of Meteorologists

The sole employer of meteorologists in Malawi is currently the government. A few institutions operate subsidiary weather stations in the country but these employ weather observers only for monitoring purposes. Elsewhere meteorologists are employed in the agricultural, water and education sectors and a good number get absorbed by the mass media, mostly radio and television.

8. Further Information

Further information on how to become a meteorologist can be obtained from the address below:

The Director
Meteorological Services
P. O. Box 1808
BLANTYRE
Malawi
Tel: +265 1 822 014
Fax: +265 1 822 215
Email: metdept@metmalawi.com

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