Many of our graduates stay in research and do a PhD in Meteorology, either here at KIT's Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research or other academic institutions around the world. A PhD is the next important step towards an academic career but can also improve chances for attractive jobs in research and development in public sector organisations or industry. Besides the analysis of data sets, doing research in Meteorology often involves field work.
Stay in research
Public weather services or private weather companies
The demand of daily weather information from the general public, agencies and industry is growing steadily. Particularly the move to renewable energy has created many new jobs and activities for meteorologists. Public sector organisations such as the German Weather Service (DWD) or the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operate large research departments that work to improve forecast models, observations and products for customers amongst other things.
Weather hazards are a substantial source of insurance losses worldwide every year. Tropical cyclones, winter windstorms, tornadoes, blizzards, freezing rain, lightning, hail or river floods lead to numerous fatalities and billions of Euros of damages. Insurance and particularly re-insurance companies need to carefully evaluate risks and plan accordingly on timescales of years to decades. More frequent extreme events in a changing climate or increasing number of people building in floodplains or along coasts have acerbated the situation. Therefore it is no surprise that the insurance sector keeps employing meteorologists to improve risk analysis, some even running their own climate models.
Our energy sector is getting more and more diverse, increasingly adding renewable technologies such as solar, wind and biomass to conventional systems based on coal, gas, oil and nuclear power. For a better planning, both technical and financial, the energy sector needs reliable forecasts on temperature, wind and solar radiation, ideally out to more than a week. Eaerly planning for critical situations such as wintertime high pressure systems with little sunshine and weak winds are crucial. Other challenges include the impact of Saharan dust on photovoltaic yield through scattering and absorption of sunlight or forecasts of fog. Both industry and public sector organisation are therefore increasingly hiring meteorologist to optimise their processes depending on weather evolution.
Adapting to and preparing for climate change is amongst the largest challenges of the 21st century. Many organisations, be it public sector or industry, need climate information from the past and projections for the future to better plan and make optimal decisions, e.g. about strategic investments. This can include long-term planning aspects such as heights of dams, capacity of sewage systems or a shift of preferred tree species in commercial forests. The raw climate information used in meteorological research is often not user friendly enough to facilitate these difficult decision processes. Here the concept of Climate Services comes into play, where – amongst other experts – meteorologists create information resources and platforms that give decision makers a much better access to the latest and best climate data in a form optimised to their needs.
Through their broad education in maths, physics and computer science, many meteorologists find work in the quickly growing, broader area of Information Technology or more specific Data Science. Given the enormous volume many meteorological datasets have, many of our students already get confronted with challenges of big data during their Master's dissertations. Working in data science can in some cases still imply meteorological data but a fraction of our graduates also find it attractive to apply the technical skills they gained during their study to other areas.