Who’s in Charge of the Weather? Meteorology in Canada

jennifer Bjorkman | May-24-11

Meteorology in Canada ECO Canada

By Chantel Sciore, Professional Services

All four seasons, rain, shine, and possible snow in July? It must be Canada! It’s no secret that our weather has a reputation for spontaneous unpredictability, but with meteorology constantly improving the science behind forecasting, we can no longer “blame the weather person.”

With the upcoming launch of  the Professional Meteorologist (P.Met) on June 5, a  certified designation offered by ECO Canada , in partnership with The Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) and Environment Canada, the JIN spoke with Chris Scott, Forecast Operations Manager with The Weather Network/MétéoMédia to find out where our erratic weather comes from, and what a typical day looks like for a meteorologist.

"Warmer air from the south is constantly at battle with cold air from the north, and southern Canada lies along the storm track that develops as a result of these contrasts in temperature. Throw in three oceans, large inland lakes, and mountains and you have a recipe for wild and changeable weather!”

In terms of a day in the life, Scott explains he wears three hats in his busy career — supervising a talented team that produces forecasts across Canada, contributing to the technical management of a meteorological system to improve the quality of forecasts, and providing meteorological support externally, such as answering relevant questions from the media.

“I am fortunate to work with a great team that believes in our core purpose to enhance the lives of Canadians through weather-related information.” He adds, “People understand weather cannot be predicted exactly, but the science of meteorology gives us the ability to produce forecasts that allow people to plan their lives.”

For those interested in pursuing a career in meteorology, Scott, who has a graduate degree in atmospheric science/meteorology, says, “In addition to the formal education requirements, a hunger to constantly learn, and strong communication skills are essential.”

He explains, “The study of atmospheric science is rooted in math and physics.  Those with a background in physical science and a passion for weather are well-positioned for success as a meteorologist.”

Working with weather-related information does have its challenges though; Scott explains, “Weather generally isn’t black and white. The challenge in years ahead will be to improve the communication of forecasts, especially the concept of uncertainty, while keeping the message simple enough to understand.”

Regarding future predictions, Scott explains Canada’s varied geography virtually guarantees we will continue to see wild and changeable weather.  “The global climate is continuing to change, and Canada will feel the impacts; however, our national obsession with the daily variations in the atmosphere which we call weather will be part of our identity well into the future.”

The Weather Network/MétéoMédia was a major contributor to the development of National Occupational Standards (NOS)  for Meteorology, and is an official supporter of the upcoming P. Met certification, which will officially launch at the 2011 CMOS Congress in Victoria, BC on June 5, 2011.

The Professional Meteorologist (P. Met) Certification is relevant for those involved in the field of meteorology at a specialized or conceptual level and who are engaged in, or managing, the research of atmospheric phenomena; the development and application of models, templates and algorithms for weather forecasting; the collection, analysis and diagnosis of meteorological data; the training of other meteorologists; or the provision of advice, forecasts, risk estimates, impact estimates, interpretation for the protection of life and property, the advancement of the economy, the protection of the environment,  or the enhancement of the quality of life.

A Professional Meteorologist can be certified in the following areas of specialization:

  • Operational Meteorology
  • Research Meteorology
  • Applied Meteorology