Climate Change Analyst
A climate change analyst could...
|Use existing climate data to create mathematical models of what will happen to ocean and land temperatures in the next 50 years.||Testify before Congress about the long-term climate and economic impacts of legislating higher automotive fuel-efficiency standards.|
|Create graphics and presentations to educate the public about climate change and its impacts.||Help avoid famines by projecting how climate change will affect worldwide farming and food distribution.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||How is climate change affecting Earth? What will the changes mean for society? If these are questions that peak your curiosity, then you might be interested in a job as a climate change analyst. Climate change analysts evaluate climate data and research to determine how shifts in the climate will affect natural resources, animals, and civilizations. They use this information to make suggestions about what individuals and governments can do to ensure a higher-quality life for everyone in the face of a changing environment.|
|Key Requirements||An interest in the social and environmental impacts of climate change, the ability to organize and sift through large amounts of data, good deductive logic, excellent communication skills|
|Minimum Degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Physics, algebra, geometry, calculus, English; if available, environmental science, computer science, statistics, political science|
|Projected Job Growth (2010-2020)||Faster than Average (14% to 20%) In Demand!|
Training, Other Qualifications
A bachelor's degree in environmental science or a related field is necessary to become a climate change analyst. Analysts who would like to focus primarily on the policy side of climate change can more easily get their first job with just a bachelor's degree. Students who would like to be more heavily involved in the science and mathematical modeling aspects of climate change analysis will also need a graduate degree (masters or PhD).
Informal training in the form of internships or time spent working in a climate-change-related science lab is also important. Since climate change analysis focuses on the junction of math, science, economics, and public policy, this is a key way of gaining first-hand skills and experience that might not be taught in the classroom.
Education and Training
At minimum, a bachelor's degree in a scientific field is required to enter the climate change analyst career track. Strong job candidates usually hold a bachelor's degree in environmental science, or a related field, with an emphasis on understanding weather or the environment, and resource conservation. Students interested in pursuing a career in climate change analysis should also take college courses in math, statistics, computer science, and physics. This is particularly important for students who would like their careers to focus on the science and modeling aspects of climate change. Students who plan to pursue the policy side of climate change should take a heavier course load in public policy and economics.
Although it is possible to work as a climate change analyst with just a bachelor's degree, employment opportunities increase with a graduate degree. This is particularly true for students interested in the more modeling-intensive career path. For these students, a masters degree or PhD in environmental science, computer science, or mathematics is helpful. Job candidates who would like to focus more on the policy aspects of climate change might benefit from a masters degree or PhD in either public policy or in environmental science.
In addition to strong math and analytical skills, climate change analysts need excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, as well as a passion for the environment.
Nature of the Work
Watch this video from the Secret Life of Scientists on PBS to see why Dr. Gavin Schmidt, world-renowned climate scientist and juggling enthusiast, feels like it's his job to tell the world, "You need to get off your carbon diet."
Climate change analysts evaluate scientific data and research about the climate. The climate data often includes, but is not limited to, information about atmospheric temperature, ocean conditions, ice masses, and greenhouse gases. They use this data to create models and to make predictions about what will happen to Earth's climate in the future, and what impacts, if any, these changes will have on natural ecosystems and civilizations. They evaluate both economic and physical impacts.
Although all climate change analysts have to be well-versed in both science and policy, an analyst's career typically focuses more heavily on either one aspect or the other. Climate change analysts who focus on science are more heavily involved in detailed mathematical modeling of the scientific data. They collaborate closely with the scientists who are gathering the climate data and work with them to analyze the information and put it in context with current environmental practices. They might also model how changes to existing government policies can alter climate change effects. Climate change analysts who focus on policy deal less with primary data; instead, they evaluate the published body of climate data and work to draw higher-level conclusions and make predictions from multiple studies. They then use these predictions to lobby for or against specific policy changes. Climate change analysts involved in policy spend a lot of time communicating their findings to non-scientific audiences like lawmakers, corporations, and the general public.
Climate change analysts spend most of their working hours indoors. A substantial amount of time is spent in front of the computer working on analyzing data and writing papers and speeches. 40-hour work weeks within normal business hours are typical for most analysts. Climate change analysts whose jobs also include a large policy or public education component might have require some additional evening and weekend work time when they are giving speeches or organizing events to highlight climate change issues.
On the Job
- Analyze and distill climate-related research findings to inform legislators, regulatory agencies, or other stakeholders.
- Propose new or modified policies involving use of traditional and alternative fuels, transportation of goods, and other factors relating to climate and climate change.
- Research policies, practices, or procedures for climate or environmental management.
- Make legislative recommendations related to climate change or environmental management, based on climate change policies, principles, programs, practices, and processes.
- Prepare study reports, memoranda, briefs, testimonies, or other written materials to inform government or environmental groups on environmental issues such as climate change.
- Provide analytical support for policy briefs related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, or climate change.
- Review existing policies or legislation to identify environmental impacts.
- Develop, or contribute to the development of, educational or outreach programs on the environment or climate change.
- Gather and review climate-related studies from government agencies, research laboratories, and other organizations.
- Prepare grant applications to obtain funding for programs related to climate change, environmental management, or sustainability.
- Present and defend proposals for climate change research projects.
- Present climate-related information at public interest, governmental, or other meetings.
- Promote initiatives to mitigate climate change with government or environmental groups.
- Write reports or academic papers to communicate findings of climate-related studies.
Companies That Hire Climate Change Analysts
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
- Air Pollution
- Data Models
- Do Hurricanes Cool the Ocean?
- Do Warmer Seas Make Stronger Hurricanes?
- Dry Spells, Wet Spells: How Common Are They?
- Frequency Histograms
- How Do Plants Change the Buildup of Greenhouse Gases?
- Hurricanes and Climate
- Is it Getting Hot in Here? Investigate the Greenhouse Effect
- Mapping Troposhperic Ozone Levels Over Time
- Ozone Depletion
- Polar Puzzle: Will Ice Melting at the North or South Poles Cause Sea Levels to Rise?
Do you have a specific question about a career in Weather & Atmosphere that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
- O*Net Online. (2009). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://online.onetcenter.org/
- National Academy of Sciences. (n.d.). Inez Fung: The Climate Modeler. I Was Wondering. Retrieved May 19, 2010, from http://iwaswondering.com/inez_homepage.html
- World Bank Institute. (2008, May 19). Interview on Climate Change with Habiba Gitay. Retrieved May 19, 2010, from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/WBI/0,,contentMDK:21766994~pagePK:209023~piPK:207535~theSitePK:213799,00.html
- NOVA ScienceNOW. (2010, January). Gavin Schmidt: Climate Scientist. The Secret Life of Scientists. Retrieved May 19, 2010, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/secretlife/scientists/gavin-schmidt/
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