The World of a Marine Meteorologist16 Jan , 2012 | 4
In my blog, I’ve spoken about the role of an aviation, wind, solar, and energy trade floor meteorologist. And today I’d like to add to that list and discuss another sector of operational meteorology: The world of a marine meteorologist.
The role of a marine meteorologist is very important since they provide critical weather forecasts for ship operations. Marine meteorologists generally work on an operational desk and normally provide weather forecasts for international ship routes for commercial fleet. Some marine meteorologists also forecast for offshore oil platforms, ports, private yachts and fishing boats both for recreation and commercial purposes.
For example, let’s say a commercial ship is sailing from Tokyo, Japan to Long Beach, CA…the marine meteorologist will put together written and visual weather forecasts for the ship operator to help them steer clear of inclement weather at sea within the route.
The marine meteorologist will mainly forecast the strength, speed, and direction of tropical storms, typhoons/hurricanes, and any severe weather that could result in major damage of the ship or significantly delay the progress of the ship. Marine meteorologists also monitor earthquakes around the world in case a tsunami may result.
Why is steering clear of bad weather so important to ship operators? Well, first for safety reasons. If the ship runs right through a typhoon in the western Pacific, it could be life-threatening for the passengers on board. Second, inclement weather affects the company’s (client’s) bottom line. If a ship is delayed X days due to weather, that is X days of lost profits. The faster those goods are delivered to port, the faster they can sell them and make a profit.
So if a marine meteorologist is confident that a ship will run into inclement weather, he or she can notify the ship operator and they could alter their route hopefully saving lives, time, and money. Long term forecasting in marine meteorology is becoming increasingly important. The farther in advance there is warning for ship operators, the more optimum routes and preparation can be made.
Therefore, a large part of being a marine meteorologist is customer service. You always want to make sure that the client is up to speed on the latest forecast and it’s communicated to them effectively. You can also notice some of the world’s shipping routes in the photo I posted above. As you can see, there are a lot of routes, so being able to multi-task on this job too is very crucial.
Since the clients are likely sailing throughout the world at all hours of the day, 24/7 shift work is usually required. I hope that marine meteorology employers view my previous post on easing the burden of rotating shifts when they can
In terms of salaries, I’d say an entry level marine meteorologist salary is around 25-45k depending upon where you work. Senior level meteorologists who have more than 15 years of experience could earn near six figures and also have “better shifts”. It’s pretty similar to most operational meteorology jobs in Aviation or NWS when you’ve reached a certain level of seniority.
Bottom line, marine meteorologists are an integral part of maritime operations. It’s another great and fascinating sector for an operational meteorologist to consider as a career. Even as modeling becomes more robust, I believe there will always be a role for a marine meteorologist. Effective human communication, whether written or verbal, is vital to a company’s (or client’s) success.
If you have any further questions, comments, or perspective about the world of marine meteorologists, feel free holler! (Photo credit: wired.com)