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As meteorology struggles with diversity, NOAA celebrates Black history

As of 2020, just 2% of meteorologists identified as Black, but efforts are underway to add diversity to the field.
Michael Hill, the warning coordinator for the National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi, in the field.
Posted at 11:23 AM, Feb 14, 2024

With February marking Black History Month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is spotlighting some of its meteorologists. 

The field has struggled with attracting Black scientists. In the most recent American Meteorological Society survey of meteorologists taken in 2020, just 2% of respondents identified as Black. According to the latest census, 13.6% of Americans are Black. 

The Meteorological Society survey found that 89% of respondents identified as White, although only 59% of the population is non-Hispanic White.

Michael Hill, the warning coordinator for the National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi, has a particularly important job. Part of his duties include the "rapid dissemination" of weather warnings to the public. In an area that sees its share of severe weather, Hill's job can impact the lives of thousands of residents. 

"I celebrate Black history by just reflecting upon the past and then thinking about the future and the things that we have accomplished as a culture, as a community, and it just really warms my heart that I am part of Black History Month at the National Weather Service," Hill said.

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Another meteorologist recognized by NOAA was Amber Liggett, who is a communications specialist for the agency's Climate Program Office. 

"I celebrate Black History Month by honoring those who came before me by being a leader in my field and outreach to youth," she said. "I'm very passionate about educating people of all ages, especially youth, about how to prepare for their natural hazards. And as a leader in my field, I'm able to do this by engaging different audiences within and outside of NOAA." 

There have been efforts to bring diversity to the field. For instance, the American Meteorologist Society has a scholarship program for students from underserved communities. There are $6,000 scholarships available through the program primarily intended for Hispanic, Native American and Black/African American students who plan to enroll in college this fall. 

Applications for the scholarship are being accepted through Feb. 23.