UNIQUENESS OF METEOROLOGY

In this blog, I consider some of the characteristics of a meteorologist and why meteorology is a unique specialization.

So, what are some of the characteristics of a meteorologist? In my view, a meteorologist has three qualities: First, a meteorologist is someone who has the understanding and knowledge about the atmosphere and atmospheric phenomena, and how the atmospheric phenomena relate to weather and climate. He or she understands, fairly well, the behaviour and processes in the atmosphere that lead to the observed weather and climate.

Secondly, a meteorologist is someone who also understands how the observed weather and climate affect the earth and the human inhabitants on earth. Finally, the meteorologist has the knowledge and expertise to observe, monitor, explain, and forecast the expected future weather and climate.

But why is meteorology unique? Meteorology is unique because of at least five basic tenets. Meteorology is an inclusive discipline, it is an international discipline, it is an interdisciplinary discipline, it is an important discipline, and it is an impactful discipline. Let me explain why I think this is the case.

1. The first tenet is the INCLUSIVENESS of meteorology. Wherever you are, there is some type of weather and there is some type of climate. And because weather and climate are everywhere, weather and climate affect everybody. Everybody wants information about the past weather and climate, the present weather and climate, and the expected future weather and climate. In our news media channels, the weather report occurs side by side with politics, finance, and sports. Weather and climate are universal; meteorological products are all-inclusive.

2. The second tenet is the INTERNATIONALITY of meteorology. Weather and climate do not recognize national and political boundaries. Storms, of whatever type, originate in one part of the world and move to other parts of the world without seeking for permission. And this is because whatever controls and drives the phenomena in the atmosphere transcend politics and national borders. And because meteorology is not limited by political boundaries, a meteorologist can comfortably work in any country. Meteorology is an international discipline.

3. The third tenet is the INTERDISCIPLINARITY of meteorology. If meteorology was a type of food, the ingredients in the recipe would include slices of mathematics, especially strips of algebra and calculus, a bunch of physics, a pinch of chemistry, and a seasoning of computer programming. There would possibly be dissert of geography. If you have some inclination toward these disciplines, you are a candidate for the complex science of meteorology, because meteorology is an interdisciplinary discipline.

4. The fourth tenet is the IMPORTANCE of meteorology. The first consideration in planning for the ongoing UEFA football championships was the climate. The first consideration in planning for next month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo is climate. Five (5) out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations in 2015, and which are to be attained by the year 2030, depend on weather and climate. The 2nd (second) goal, which is about eliminating hunger; the 3rd (third) goal is about good health and wellbeing; the 6th (sixth) goal is about clean water and sanitation; the 7th (seventh) goal is about affordable and clean energy; and the 13th (thirteenth) goal is about climate action; all these five goals cannot succeed without good weather and favourable climate. Similarly, the success of Kenya’s Vision 2030 agenda, which was launched in 2008, will depend on the conditions of weather and climate. Specifically, the success of the Big Four agenda, which was launched in 2018 as a way of accelerating the Third Medium-term Plan of the Vision 2030, will depend on having favourable weather and climate.

The Big Four agenda emphasised attaining food security and nutrition, realising affordable housing, escalating manufacturing, and achieving affordable universal healthcare. Without good weather and climate, we cannot have a good harvest or good pasture; and without food, we can easily starve. Meteorology is fundamental to agriculture, food systems, and food security. Manufacturing, would not materialise fully without weather and climate, which control, among other drivers, the energy production, labour and raw materials. Weather and climate affect the health of human beings directly and indirectly. Viral diseases, including Covid-19, are weather dependent. The viral load, its severity, distribution and spread depend on the weather and climate. Weather and climate also affect the housing sector. The type of houses we build, and the process of construction depend on weather and climate. The success of the big four agenda will depend on weather and climate.

I do not need to state how meteorology plays a crucial role to city planning, forestry, road construction, and transportation by road, by rail, by air, by sea. Without weather forecast information, no plane can dare fly, no ship can sail, and no satellite can be launched into space. Can we really live comfortably and safely without meteorological information? Is there any sector where meteorology is not applied directly or indirectly?

5. The fifth tenet is the IMPACTS of meteorological information and data. Nine out of every ten natural disasters are related to weather and climate. Without forecast information, thousands of people would be in danger of losing their lives every year. Without meteorological science, property estimated at multiplied millions of dollars would be destroyed. Whether it is floods or droughts; heat waves or cold waves; dust storms or thunderstorms; or strong winds or lightning; extreme weather and climate conditions can have devastating repercussions. Lightning and windy weather frustrate aviators; sea waves and storms are bad for ships at sea. Airports shut down and ships stay on harbours during severe and adverse weather. Weather conditions impact lives and livelihoods.

Climate change without meteorology is an oxymoron, like a river without water. And the focus currently given to the subject of climate change by the international community is the clearest admission that weather and climate affect governance and nearly all sectors of our socio-economic structure. The ongoing climate change debate and advocacy affirms that meteorology is all-inclusive, it has an international character, it is interdisciplinary, it impacts everybody, and it is important.

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