A career in weather and nature

Published Jul 8, 2024


Jennifer Fitchett

A JOB involving weather and nature can be an excellent choice for individuals looking for an exciting and varied career.

Biometeorologists are applied climatologists who do research on the impact that climate change has on plants, animals and people. A climatologist is someone who studies the weather and the climate in an attempt to understand things like why and when it rains, and when we might expect a heatwave or a large storm. They cannot, however, tell you whether it will rain this afternoon – that is what a meteorologist does.

Climatologists look at data over long time periods of decades to centuries to understand patterns in the weather and what causes them.

Biometeorologists explore the impact that the weather, climate, seasons, heatwaves, storms and droughts have on a range of natural responses like when plants flower, when birds migrate, the timing of the cold and flu season, the areas where malaria is common, and people’s risk of experiencing heat stress.

Here are some reasons why a career in climatology or biometeorology could be a good fit:


Understanding climate and the specific climatic changes that are projected for a region is important in helping people adapt to the climate change future. Adaptation could involve building retaining walls along the edge of coastal properties to prevent large waves from flooding houses close to the beach, insulating houses in areas that will become very hot, and building desalination plants (where seawater is converted into fresh, drinking water) for drought-prone coastal towns.

Each of these requires people to do something now about the effects we will experience in the future. Doing something often takes a lot of time and money. To make good investments, it’s very important to know what climate threats we are likely to face, and when.


Although some of our time is spent behind a computer screen analysing data, much of the data we get is from exciting places. Fieldwork could involve visiting school playgrounds to measure the temperatures, or travelling to Tanzania to attach small temperature-monitoring instruments to coffee trees. We also use archives to find evidence of the impact of climate change on the flowering dates of trees and the migration timing of fish.

If you enjoy travelling and using equipment to measure changes in the world around you, this is a good job for you.


Biometeorology is a great choice if you are struggling to decide what career to pursue. This is because it is highly interdisciplinary; drawing from a range of different subjects or fields of research.

It involves school subjects like natural science (or biology), physical science (physics and chemistry), history, social science and mathematics. Even at university level, it draws from a range of subjects as very few universities have dedicated programmes in biometeorology or even climatology.

It involves working with a wide range of professionals including civil engineers and architects, sports scientists, zoologists, biologists and ecologists. The possibilities are endless.

  • Fitchett is an associate professor at WITS
  • Article republished from The Conversation