Atmospheric scientists and meteorologists study the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. This discipline requires heavy concentrations in physics and advanced mathematics, and students are required to have a strong background in both aspects. Scientists use knowledge about the atmosphere to predict weather, perform long-range forecasting, apply numerical modeling, evaluate climate change and monitor air quality. This discipline also includes a background in remote sensing and environmental studies. Cross disciplinary approaches are closely connected to oceanography and hydrology. Undergraduates also have many opportunities to participate in research projects that contribute to regional, national and even international programs.
Employment opportunities for atmospheric scientists are expected to expand 18% over the coming decade, which is faster than the national average. The federal government currently employs one-third of all atmospheric scientists, but future growth appears to be in the private sector where weather forecasting, risk management and environmental consulting firms are expected to expand as technology advances. (See U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for salary information at www.bls.gov.)