The three main objectives of the Weather Bureau are the operation and maintenance of a weather observation network throughout the country, the provision of meteorological advice services and research and training.
With rapid technological development, equipment of an increasing degree of sophistication such as meteorological satellites, automatic weather stations and powerful electronic data processing systems is being used to capture and process meteorological data.
Meteorologists are responsible for management to ensure that the Weather Bureau keeps pace with scientific and technological developments, that high standards are maintained and that staff receive the necessary training. Meteorologists must therefore be well-trained academically and conversant with meteorological practice. Research is also an important task of meteorologists. In conjunction with the Water Research Commission, for example, the Weather Bureau is doing research on the microphysics of clouds, the artificial stimulation of rainfall and hail suppression.
The Central Forecasting Office in Pretoria continuously receives meteorological data from various weather stations throughout the southern hemisphere. Apart from conventional meteorological data, a large and growing volume of data, for instance: cloud imagery, upper air temperatures, wind direction and speed which are determined by weather satellites, are regularly received and processed.
These meteorological data are analysed several times during the course of a day for weather forecasting purposes. Twice a day the analysis is done for the entire southern hemisphere with a powerful electronic data processing system. At the same time a numerical prognosis is made of the displacement and development of the analysed pressure systems.
Meteorologists are responsible for the operation of these computerised prognostic systems. This involves some research and development of new numerical models. Meteorologists must therefore have a sound knowledge of electronic data processing techniques.
All meteorological data is stored in a computerised data bank. Before data is added to the data bank it is subjected to quality controls. Meteorologists are responsible for the operation of the data bank and for the design and maintenance of the system software.
Meteorologists can also specialise in one of the following fields in meteorology: dynamic and synoptic meteorology, numerical weather prediction, physical meteorology, or microphysics of clouds and climatology. Meteorologists carry out their duties in well-equipped offices and do a certain amount of research in laboratories.
Areas of specialisation include: