CALCULUS:
IS IT NEEDED TO BE A FORECASTER?
 
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
Common reasons given that a working knowledge of calculus is important in weather forecasting:
1. The understanding of calculus gives a forecaster a depth of understanding atmospheric processes more
completely.
2. Meteorology is a specialized highly mathematical field where the understanding of calculus is critical in
order to have academic success. There would be too many meteorologists if calculus was not required. Jobs
need to be filled by those that have survived the rigors of calculus and physics.
3. All people working in the field of meteorology should have a similar math and physics background.
4. The science of meteorology is more important than forecasting application.
Common reasons given that a working knowledge of calculus is not important in weather forecasting:
1. Computers solve the math for the forecaster. While a theoretical meteorologist must have this
high power math to develop computer models it is not needed for someone who is purely an
operational meteorologist.
2. Having a strong knowledge of calculus in no way guarantees someone will become a good forecaster. More
emphasis on forecasting and less emphasis on engineering math and engineering physics is the way to go.
3. Solving calculus equations is not needed while putting a forecast together.
4. Many military weather forecasters and weather broadcasters have had successful careers without calculus.
5. While it is important to understand the equations of the atmosphere, deriving complicated equations is
less relevant. Studying the algebraic form of meteorology equations is as much as is needed for someone going
into operational meteorology.
6. A college education should help train you for a job. We do not use calculus on the job but we need to
know how to forecast or else we do not get hired to do operational meteorology.


