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Atmospheric Sciences
Undergraduate Program
Atmospheric Sciences Major
• Provide a strong background in the key
areas of atmospheric sciences.
• Lays the groundwork for a career in
atmospheric or environmental sciences.
• Provide a strong foundation in physics,
math, and the use of computers for solving
scientific problems.
What Kind of Careers are
Available in the Atmospheric
Life After UW Atmospheric
• National Weather Service
• Private weather prediction and wind energy firms
(e.g., 3-Tier/Vaisalla, Northwest Weathernet)
• Research and Graduate school
• Military (mainly Air Force)
• Media (TV weathercasters and support staff)
• Environmental consulting firms
• Aviation
• Others (e.g., Boeing, insurance industry)
• Weather app development
TV Weathercasting
• Positions at local TV stations
• Positions at national outlets like the
Weather Channel and national networks
(CNN, FOX, etc)
• Large salary range.
Some Department Graduates On
The Air
MJ McDermott
Jeff Renner
Joe Witte
Weather Prediction Careers
• There are opportunities in both the public
and private sectors.
Weather Prediction Careers
• Many private sector weather forecasting
firms throughout the country.
• Local firm: Northwest
WeatherNet…founded by a department
graduate (Tony Mouser)
Wind Energy Prediction
• Many firms across the
country provide weather
predictions for the wind
and other energy
• The leading wind energy
prediction firm is in
by an ex-undergraduate in
our department.
Ken Westrick
Dept. Undergrad
• Wide range of research careers and venues
University faculty
Government labs
National Center for Atmospheric Research
and others.
• Generally requires at least a M.S. to
participate as a support scientist and Ph.D.
to direct research and teach.
National Center for Atmospheric
Research (NCAR)
Example of Research Areas
Evolution of earth’s climate.
Midlatitude storms
Weather Prediction
Influence of mountains on weather.
Structure and development of hurricanes
Global warming and the local implications of
climate change.
• Atmospheric processes such as convection and
cloud physics.
• Atmospheric chemistry (e.g., pollutant transport
from China)
Dealing With Global Warming
• Increasing number of career possibilities in
helping society deal with global warming
– Research to clarify the implications of global
warming locally and globally
– Positions in city, state, and local government to
deal with global warming’s effects
• A number of our grads have been in Air
Force or other ROTC programs, becoming
meteorologists or pilots after graduation.
Matt Dogget, USAF
Many Other Careers
• Air quality prediction
• Environmental consultant
• Insurance companies--determination of
storm risks for actuarial calculations
• Meteorological support for Boeing--needed
to design and test new aircraft.
Graduate School in Atmospheric
• A necessity if you want to go into research.
• M.S. also advisable for other directions, such as
weather prediction.
• Graduate school admission usually comes with
support for tuition and living expenses.
• Three main criteria used for selection: grades,
GRE, recommendations.
• Each school has its strengths and weaknesses.
The Atmospheric Sciences Academic Program
Major Requirements
The Atmospheric Sciences major has been designed to provide students with considerable
flexibility in designing a program consistent with their interests and needs.
Entrance Requirements
There are no entrance requirements. A student may declare Atmospheric Sciences as a major
upon admission into the university.
But, a one-year series of math and physics classes are needed to start the major’s classes.
Required Core Courses
All students take a collection of core courses that provide essential material that all
atmospheric scientists should master. A grade of at least 2.0 is required in the core courses,
with an overall average in atmospheric sciences classes of at least 2.5.
Core Courses
These courses are:
CSE 142 (4): Introduction to Programming
MATH 124, 125, 126 (5,5,5); (or equiv.); 324 (3) Calculus
AMATH 301 (4): Introduction to MATLAB
AMATH 351, 353 (3,3) Differential Equations
PHYS 121,122, 123 (5,5,5): One year of calculus-based Physics
ATM S 301 (5): Introduction to Atmospheric Sciences
ATM S 321 (3): Physical Climatology
ATM S 340 (3): Thermodynamics and Cloud Processes
ATM S 341 (3): Atmospheric Radiative Transfer
ATM S 358 (3): Fundamentals of Atmospheric Chemistry
ATM S 370 (5): Atmospheric Structure and Analysis
ATM S 431 (3): Boundary-Layer Meteorology
ATM S 441 (3): Atmospheric Motions I
Additional Classes
• Once the core courses are completed, a student
will select additional upper-division courses for a
minimum of 19 credits.
• These credits are chosen to provide a coherent,
customized program that reflects the student's
interests and career goals.
• The department has prepared groups of additional
courses…called tracks… that provide a coherent
education in specific areas.
Degree Tracks
Track 1: Meteorology
This track provides students with a strong background in dynamics, synoptic
meteorology and weather forecasting, and provides the coursework required for
entry into the National Weather Service, military forecasting careers or
graduate school.
Track 2: Climate
This track provides additional background in oceanography and glaciology so
that a student has a widened perspective of the climate system.
Track 3: Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Quality
This track is aimed at students with interests in chemistry and/or environmental
engineering who would like to apply their knowledge of atmospheric sciences
to environmental issues such as evolving atmospheric composition and air
Two-Year Sequence
Meteorology Track
Working on a B.A. in
Atmospheric Sciences
Learning possibilities for Atmospheric Sciences
majors don't end in the classroom!
Going beyond the classes can make a huge impact on your future.
Some Examples:
* Department Seminars and Colloquia. Each Friday afternoon there
is a department colloquium, generally on a topic of general interest. Prior
to the colloquium, refreshments are served and students and faculty
gather in an informal setting. In addition, there are a number of weekly
seminars with a more specialized focus.
* Weekly weather discussion. Every Tuesday at 12:30 PM a member
of the department gives a weather discussion on current conditions or on
a topic of individual choice.
* Northwest Weather Workshop. Each year the UW
cosponsors a gathering of approximately 150 regional
meteorologists on the latest advances in Northwest
meteorology and weather forecasting. The first day of the
meeting generally has a theme, such as aviation or
* Student AMS Chapter. Majors in the department
regularly meet as a student chapter of the American
Meteorological Society
* Puget Sound AMS Chapter. Monthly meetings,
including a talk and refreshments, of the Puget Sound
Chapter of the American Meteorological Society are
popular with students.
Internships and Research
Internships provide a valuable opportunity to explore interests in
potential meteorological career paths and to extend knowledge through
real-life experiences.
Internships with various National Weather Service Forecast Offices (such
as Seattle and Portland) as well as with local TV stations, have proven to
be very popular.
Students may earn academic credit for internships, which sometimes
provide a stipend.
Several of our students have begun successful careers in TV
weathercasting in this manner, and many successfully entered the
National Weather Service by interning.
Undergraduate Research
Many of our majors also participate in departmental
research projects, learning while making important
contributions to the research, sometimes with a stipend. A
number of majors have participate in field research
programs, such as the recent OLYMPEX field program.
Summer Internships
• There are a number of summer internships
available around the country.
• Many are organized under the NSF REU
(Research Experience for Undergrads) program…
you work on research and get paid!
• A number of other internships exist…example this
year--Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
• Department Scholarships
• American Meteorological Society
• National Weather Association Scholarship
• Employment in the department (research
projects, department jobs)
• University scholarships and jobs.
Department Scholarships
• Department scholarships to pay tuition and/or
other expenses are awarded each year from
The Bruce Caldwell Memorial Scholarship as
well as from The Richard J. and Joan M. Reed
Endowed Scholarship Fund.
• These scholarships are available once a
student has begun the Atmospheric Sciences
course sequence and are based on both
academic performance and financial need.
Where to Go For More
Erica Coleman
Room 416 ATG Building
Box 351640
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-1640
Email | Phone: 206.543.4576