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The three main objectives of the Weather Bureau are the operation and maintenance of a weather observation network throughout the country, the provision of meteorological advice services and research and training.

With rapid technological development, equipment of an increasing degree of sophistication such as meteorological satellites, automatic weather stations and powerful electronic data processing systems is being used to capture and process meteorological data.

Meteorologists are responsible for management to ensure that the Weather Bureau keeps pace with scientific and technological developments, that high standards are maintained and that staff receive the necessary training.

Meteorologists must therefore be well-trained academically and conversant with meteorological practice. Research is also an important task of meteorologists. In conjunction with the Water Research Commission, for example, the Weather Bureau is doing research on the microphysics of clouds, the artificial stimulation of rainfall and hail suppression.

The Central Forecasting Office in Pretoria continuously receives meteorological data from various weather stations throughout the southern hemisphere. Apart from conventional meteorological data, a large and growing volume of data, for instance: cloud imagery, upper air temperatures, wind direction and speed which are determined by weather satellites, are regularly received and processed.

These meteorological data are analysed several times during the course of a day for weather forecasting purposes. Twice a day the analysis is done for the entire southern hemisphere with a powerful electronic data processing system. At the same time a numerical prognosis is made of the displacement and development of the analysed pressure systems.

Meteorologists are responsible for the operation of these computerized prognostic systems. This involves some research and development of new numerical models. Meteorologists must therefore have a sound knowledge of electronic data processing techniques.

All meteorological data is stored in a computerized data bank. Before data is added to the data bank it is subjected to quality controls. Meteorologists are responsible for the operation of the data bank and for the design and maintenance of the system software.

Meteorologists can also specialize in one of the following fields in meteorology: dynamic and synoptic meteorology, numerical weather prediction, physical meteorology, or microphysics of clouds and climatology. Meteorologists carry out their duties in well-equipped offices and do a certain amount of research in laboratories.

Areas of specialization include:

- dynamic and synoptic meteorology
- numerical weather prediction
- physical meteorology and the microphysics of clouds
- climatology

Meteorologists work indoors in offices or weather stations often surrounded by atmospheric, land and water maps, charts and models, modern weather recording and evaluating equipment and computers.

Meteorological Technician
Meteorological technicians are responsible for the collection of meteorological information. Their work includes the rendering of meteorological advisory services, the operating and maintenance of a weather observation network throughout the whole of South Africa, and research and training.

Except for a few specialists, technicians render almost all of the climatological services at the Weather Bureau. Before any meteorological forecast can be made, the technician must collect a large amount of meteorological information.

Observations are made of different elements such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, visibility and clouds. Various aids such as computers, radar and automatic weather stations are used to make these observations. Meteorological instrument technicians are responsible for the maintenance of this apparatus.

After a meteorological technician has checked all the information, it is sent to the most important weather offices with the use of meteorological codes. Sometimes observations are sent directly to air navigation and marine offices. Weather offices at all the major airports are manned by meteorological technicians who provide more than 300 flight forecasts daily to air navigation. Forecasts are also provided to agriculture, industry and the general public. Records are kept of all observations and added to a computerized data bank.

Meteorological technicians may work in weather stations at airports or at stations in isolated areas. They work shifts and some weather offices are open for 24 hours every day. Meteorological instrument technicians are responsible for the installation, maintenance and development of electronic and sophisticated equipment such as electronic airport systems and weather radar.

Satisfying Aspects
- the challenge and variety of the work
- knowing that others rely on the information you provide

Demanding aspects
- working nights
- weekends and holidays
- occasional frustration involved in research, or of trying to predict weather conditions
- having to continue with further studies throughout your career to qualify for promotion

A meteorologist should:
- be curious and imaginative;
- be able to communicate clearly in both speech and writing;
- have good judgement;
- be responsible;
- be able to concentrate well, even under stress;
- have a mathematical and scientific aptitude.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Geography, Life Sciences

Degree: BSc with appropriate subjects - most universities. The course, Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology can be taken at UFS, UP, Soil-, Crop- and Climate Sciences - UFS

Practical training: candidates must undergo practical training under the supervision of a senior officer at the Weather Bureau. Training consists of weather observation, operating meteorological instruments and weather forecasting.

Postgraduate study: BSc Honours degree with Applied Mathematics, Mathematics, Physics or Mathematical Statistics is required to become a professional meteorologist.

- Weather Bureau,
- Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
- weather stations all over South Africa
- Department of Agriculture
- universities
- forecast offices of airports and air force stations

Weather Bureau
Dept of Environmental Affairs
Forum Building
Bosman Street
Pretoria, 0002
Tel: (012) 290-2930

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Tel: (012) 310-3661
Fax: (012) 322-0082

P O Box 395
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 841-2911
Fax: (012) 349-1153

South African Weather Service:

Bethlehem Weather Office
Private Bag X15
Bethlehem, 9700
Tel: (058) 303-5571/2
Fax: (058) 303-2352

Irene Weather Office
Private Bag X 08
Irene, 0062
Tel: (012) 665-1591/2/3/4/5/6
Fax: (012) 665-1594