Atmospheric science is the study of the atmosphere—the blanket of air covering the Earth. Within this field of science there are two main areas of inquiry, meteorology and climatology. Meteorologists monitor the atmosphere using both physical and chemistry methodology with the primary goal of forecasting weather. Climatology is the study of long term climate patterns and either natural or human factors that may affect or be affected by climate changes.
- Main Article: Meteorology
Meteorology is the study the atmosphere’s physical characteristics, motions, and processes, and the way in which these factors affect the rest of our environment. The best known application of this knowledge is forecasting the weather. In addition to predicting the weather, atmospheric scientists attempt to identify and interpret climate trends, understand past weather, and analyze today’s weather. Weather information and meteorological research are also applied in air-pollution control, agriculture, forestry, air and sea transportation, defense, and the study of possible trends in the Earth’s climate, such as global warming, droughts, and ozone depletion.
- Main Article: Climatology
Climatology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences that studies climactic variations spanning hundreds or even millions of years. They also may collect, analyze, and interpret past records of wind, rainfall, sunshine, and temperature in specific areas or regions. Their studies are used to design buildings, plan heating and cooling systems, and aid in effective land use and agricultural production. Environmental problems, such as pollution and shortages of fresh water, have widened the scope of the meteorological profession.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition: Atmospheric Scientists by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.