|MadSci Network: Earth Sciences|
Joshua, I use math at my meteorology job every day! Here are some examples: 1. Suppose the temperature at 6:00 AM is 20 degrees. I expect it to rise 3 degrees an hour for 3 hours, and then rise 2 degrees and hour until 4:00 PM, hold steady for 2 hours, and then drop 4 degrees the next hour. What is my temperature forecast for 7:00 PM? That is an algebra problem, and I do this every day! 2. We launch a weather balloon filled with hydrogen twice a day to measure the winds, temperature and humidity up to nearly 100,000 feet. I know the balloon rises at 1000 feet per minute, and I can calculate the angle above the ground and the angle that relates to the north/south and east/west movement of the balloon. I also know it is the wind that is making the balloon move, so if I know the time, and angles, I can calculate what the winds had to be in order to make the balloon move there. That is a trigonometry problem, and we do that many times per day. 3. A thunderstorm is really a 3-dimensional mass of cloud that moves through the atmosphere. One of my jobs is to predict where the thunderstorm will be and what area under this storm will experience severe weather. That is a calculus problem, and I do it hundreds of times per year. 4. We use computer programs to simulate the atmosphere. These programs take the current state of the atmosphere (which we can measure), and projects them forward in time using rate of change equations and physical laws. This math is called differential equations. 5. After I measure the atmosphere, we calculate averages, differences from normal, and changes over time. This math is called statistics, as we use it every day. So as you can see, a lot of math is needed. Most college meteorology programs will require 2 to 3 years of college math, along with physics, chemistry, and computer programming. Math is really the language of science. Don't be put off because of the math. It is simply a tool scientists use to explain and explore physical basis for our science. Check out a few college meteorology programs and look at the math requirements. It seems overwhelming, but it actually is very useful. I find it pretty neat that I do math all day and get paid for it! Here is an example listing of courses requires to get a degree in meteorology. Iowa State University: http://www.ge-at.iastate.edu/academics/programs/meteorology/undergraduate University of Georgia http://www.uga.edu/atsc/undergrad_certificate.html
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