Emerging Roles for Certified Consulting Meteorologists in Environmental Management

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010: 11:15 AM
B214 (GWCC)
Ryan A. Gesser, Georgia-Pacific LLC, Atlanta, GA

Experienced meteorologists play an ever-increasing role in environmental management as essential team members who work in collaboration with engineers, business leaders, policy makers, regulatory authorities, and other physical scientists. Certified consulting meteorologists (CCMs) are distinguished contributors that offer unique perspectives based on proven knowledge, specialized experience, and demonstrated character. CCMs involved in environmental management, particularly air quality, apply their skills to a wide range of applied meteorological problems such as regulatory permitting, meteorological and air quality modeling, environmental impact assessment, and instrumentation and monitoring. Many CCMs also fulfill traditional roles in project, administrative, and financial management and utilize these experiences to make greater contributions to solve environmental management problems.

CCMs have historically been leaders in environmental management through unique qualifications and distinct practical experiences. In the corporate and consulting communities, many CCMs are accepting roles with increased expectations and higher profiles as issues of environmental impacts are brought to the forefront of plans for economic growth and recovery. More than ever before, environmental impacts may be perceived as fatal flaws that must be characterized, evaluated, and mitigated to minimize risk and increase the benefits of proposed projects such as industrial expansion or commercial growth. CCMs are more likely to find themselves involved in such projects earlier and with increased responsibilities to ensure a successful outcome.

Air quality modeling has long been an essential environmental management tool to evaluate and prevent adverse impacts resulting from industrial growth. Advancements in modeling techniques are accelerating with improvements in data accessibility and high-performance computing. CCMs contribute to the development and implementation of advanced modeling techniques by enhancing the performance of model algorithms to take advantage of high-speed processing capabilities as well as improving the resolution of meteorological input data that affect the simulated physical, dynamical, and chemical processes. Integration of global, regional, and local scale meteorological data (observed and simulated) is an area of considerable focus.

Air quality permitting (as a specific aspect of environmental impact analysis) relies heavily on air quality modeling and associated activities such as emissions inventory development, control technology assessment, and risk assessment. Many CCMs work closely with engineers to evaluate the performance of industrial processes, and subsequently work with toxicologists and analysts to assess the associated environmental and health risks. Finance is inextricably linked to environmental performance through cost-benefit analyses, whether considered from the perspective of design of pollution control systems or the impacts and consequences for exposed communities. Many CCMs have developed proficiency in fundamental financial analysis techniques to enable them to contribute more to such analyses.

Many CCMs are involved with development of meteorological instrumentation and monitoring networks, which may be implemented for specific environmental management needs or to collect data for future modeling and forecasting analyses. Even within an environmental management context, many CCMs enjoy opportunities for traditional forecasting roles, which may be focused toward air quality or environmental impacts or forensic in nature to reconstruct air quality episodes and analyze meteorological causes. While many CCMs are undoubtedly working to better understand climate change, some CCMs are applying projections for climate change to forecast specific changes in availability of natural resources and implications for economic growth and environmental sustainability.

The CCM community is composed of distinguished professionals that have historically utilized their unique knowledge and experience to make important contributions in science, engineering, and business. The role of CCMs will continue to become increasingly vital as environmental management is promoted as a foundation for economic recovery and growth.