Bachelor of Science in Atmospheric Science

Atmospheric Sciences encompasses many areas of study that explore our atmosphere's physical characteristics, motions and processes, and how these influence all aspects of the environment and human life. Atmospheric scientists interpret and predict weather patterns, analyze climate trends, monitor air quality, working in a wide variety of agencies, laboratories, businesses and educational institutions. Professionals in the atmospheric sciences have the chance to apply their knowledge to important societal issues such as resource planning, environmental analysis, protection of health and property, improvement in water management and agricultural productivity, and energy conservation. Employment prospects in this field are expanding rapidly due to the recognition by both public agencies and private companies that weather, climate and air pollution has a strong impact on economic development, insurance risk, human and animal health, ecosystem stability, public safety, recreation and quality of life.

Research and internships

Students pursuing a B.S. (or Minor) degree in the Atmospheric Sciences have many opportunities to combine their studies with outdoor studies, laboratory-based research, computer-based modeling and other types of active learning with mentorship by the faculty and scientists. Examples of these activities include internships and student research projects in the Desert Research Institute (DRI) Division of Atmospheric Sciences offices in Reno and Las Vegas, in the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Physics and other departments, internships with agencies such as the federal National Weather Service and state/county environmental offices, and employment with environmental consulting businesses.

Career Opportunities

  • Cloud Physics (formation and interactions of water droplets, rain and snow in cloud systems)
  • Fire Weather (fire prediction; thunderstorm and lightning climatologies)
  • Renewable Energy (assessing wind and solar power resources; designing energy systems)
  • Airflow Modeling (mountain wave dynamics; wind shear hazards to aircraft)
  • Computer-Based Weather Prediction (forecast model development and validation)
  • Air Quality Monitoring and Improvement (air sampling methods; advising on national emissions standards)
  • Weather Modification (snowpack augmentation; pollution effects on precipitation physics)
  • Atmospheric Chemistry (smog and visibility problems; health risks; ozone and greenhouse gas effects)
  • Remote Sensing (satellite observation and interpretation; estimation of cloud and atmospheric properties)
  • Aviation (flight training ; physics of turbulence and icing ; aircraft instrument development)
  • Radar Meteorology (tracking precipitation; methods for determining snowfall and rainfall intensity)
  • Climate Change (analysis of climate trends, predicting future climate scenarios and impacts)
  • Mountain Meteorology (snowfall and weather at high altitude; in-cloud studies of snowfall processes)
  • Instrument Design (engineering and testing of unique new sensors for cloud and atmospheric composition)

Are you Someone Who:

  • Plans to contribute to protecting the environment and reducing the impacts of weather and climate?
  • Has curiosity about how airflow, storms, cloud formation and energy processes work in the atmosphere?
  • Enjoys active science experimentation and outdoor exploration?
  • Would like to learn more about computer technology and applications (modeling, analysis, mapping)?
  • Wants to lead your own career with ever-expanding opportunities?

The Atmospheric Sciences degree program at the University of Nevada, Reno will give you a very strong and adaptable science and math knowledge base with many career avenues. You'll be able to pursue jobs at federal agencies such as NASA, National Weather Service, US Forest Service, EPA, USGS and the Department of Energy. Commercial businesses such as insurance firms, investment companies, energy development, agriculture and environmental consulting hire atmospheric scientists. Science education teachers who have knowledge of the weather and climate processes are also in high demand. Additional opportunities are found in scientific laboratories and university research groups.

High school preparation

Students who have taken high school physics, advanced math (trigonometry, calculus) and chemistry will be highly qualified for success in the Atmospheric Sciences degree program. Other classwork that is related to the Atmospheric Sciences is recommended in environmental sciences, geography, and computer applications.

Students who do very well on AP exams in science and math areas may receive University course credit for them.

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