School of Mathematics and Statistics Maths & Statistics Careers

Cameron Henderson

Bureau of Meteorology
Graduated 1997

When I left the University Of Melbourne after Honours in 1995, I worked for a consulting company for 4 years. I became fed up with "the profit motive" and decided to do something more "worthwhile"; so I trained as a secondary teacher. During my DipEd I stumbled across the Bureau Of Meteorology's 2001 graduate program - a full year of study, paid, and at the end of it a Postgraduate Diploma and a guaranteed job. This was too good an opportunity to pass up and I have been with the Bureau ever since, working as a weather forecaster in NSW and the ACT.

I currently work in Canberra forecasting the weather for ACT. Weather forecasting is a round the clock occupation and although the overall hours are reasonable, shiftwork makes it quite tough: roughly 2 out of 5 shifts start at 3am! The weather has a high profile within the community, particularly in Canberra, and in addition to writing forecasts there is a lot of work with the media - regular radio interviews and briefing the television news presenters. Overall it is a very stimulating profession.

While this is not a position where I am crunching integrals every day, analysing climate statistics is commonplace. Predicting the evolution of the atmosphere has become the domain of computer models and forecasting is now more of a communications role, as well as adjusting for local weather effects. However, it is necessary to have a sound understanding of the dynamics of the atmosphere. The models are not perfect and you need to be able to assess where and why they might be going wrong. Meteorology is one of the most mathematically intensive applied sciences around. There are ample opportunities to move into more research based positions. So while hard core mathematics is not an everyday part of weather forecasting, one only needs to scratch a little below the surface and it is right back into the mathematical twilight zone!

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