Climate Change Specialist


Climate change specialists study the changes in weather over time. They do this by looking at the winds, temperatures, lightning, sunshine, and rainfall. This information helps them to make sense of climate trends and changes, and allows specialists to see how human activity affects the weather. Climate change specialists look at how society can adapt to and lessen the impacts of climate change, and how citizens can positively impact and protect the environment.

At a glance

Imagine you’re working in British Columbia. You’re on a speedboat heading out into the ocean to check that all the satellite receivers within a 100 km radius are functioning properly. These devices measure the sea-surface height throughout the year. As a climate change specialist, the height of the sea surface interests you because your newest project is currently trying to establish whether warming of the northern glaciers is raising the water levels near Vancouver. Understanding the rising sea level is important because it will shape the province’s future coastline.Working in a team with oceanographers and marine biologists, you’re writing a report about the impact of the warming atmosphere on marine life and urban development in the Vancouver area. A major aspect of your report focuses on different ways in which Canadians can reduce their environmental impact. The gas in the cars we drive and the electricity in 20% of British Columbia’s homes are produced by burning fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions are created by the burning of fossil fuels. These gases get trapped in the atmosphere and heat the earth.In your report, you’ll demonstrate the connection between our energy usage and rising sea levels near Vancouver. You’ll be highlighting the importance of energy efficiency and the use of wind and solar energy to provide electricity to Canadian communities. The report is the first part of a presentation that will be delivered to the Minister of the Environment.As climate change specialist, you work with a wide variety of professionals. You also make recommendations to governments and businesses about how to adapt to climate change and its environmental consequences.

Job duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a climate change specialist:
  • Research the causes and effects of weather, climate, and the atmosphere
  • Conduct studies to evaluate changes in climate
  • Monitor weather, including wind speed, temperature, and precipitation
  • Create plans to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Create mathematical computer models of weather and climate
  • Use your information to help create environmental policies on smog and hazardous pollutants
  • Make scientific presentations, and publish reports and articles for specialists and the general public

Work environment

Climate change specialists work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:In the office:
  • Research climate change patterns
  • Create reports and papers from your findings
In the field:
  • Collect atmospheric, land, and water samples
  • Monitor weather
  • Present information to the public/ special interest groups
In the lab:
  • Testing field samples
  • Creating mathematical models of weather and climate

Where to work

  • Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
  • Research institutions
  • Universities and colleges
  • Environmental organizations and consulting firms

Education & requirements

In most cases, the minimum education required to work as a climate change specialist is a university bachelor's degree. A master's degree of Ph.D. may be required and can improve your employment prospects and salary. If you are considering a career as a climate change specialist, the following programs are most applicable:
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry
  • Physics
  • Geophysics
  • Meteorology
In addition, graduate courses in atmospheric science and statistics are recommended.Certification is not mandatory for climatologists, but most practitioners choose to belong to a professional group, such as the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.If you are a high school student considering a career as a climate change specialist you should have a strong interest in:
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Geography
  • English

Salary

Climate change specialists with a university degree make an average of $47,000 per year in Canada.With several years of experience and a post graduate degree, they can make between $58,000 and $72,000 per year.