Angela earned her degree in oceanography, climate studies and physical geography from the University of Liverpool. She went on to pursue her PhD there, studying sea levels in polar regions. She is currently a sea level scientist and tidal analyst for the National Tide and Sea Level Facility at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Liverpool.
One of my main responsibilities is to take information from the UK's 44 tidal gauges and analyse the data. The data is used by government agencies, such as the Met Office and the Environment Agency, to feed into models used for weather and sea level predictions. The dataset is also available to sea level scientists around the world and feeds into climate adaptation policy. It is important to me that I am doing something that is valuable and of concern to a lot of people.
As well as studying underlying trends in sea levels, I look at surges and other tidal extremes and ways of improving current methods of tidal prediction. Much of this is computer-based - running programs and analysing data to understand sea level variability and the tides. However, there are opportunities to get out in the field. NOC scientists participate in oceanographic cruises all over the world and I've been lucky enough to take part in a cruise in Bahamian waters researching variability of the ocean circulation in the North Atlantic.
Although I've finished my PhD, my job allows me to continue my research into polar sea level variability. This interests me because polar ocean processes have a strong influence on global climate. I love the research aspect of my role because I am always learning and it's exciting to be making discoveries. Sometimes, these can be quite surprising; for example, during my PhD I found that changes in wind direction in the stratosphere over the equator can affect sea levels in polar regions.
Before starting my degree, I worked in a bank for several years. I then started an Open University degree in natural sciences. I became so interested in it that I decided to study a full-time BSc in Oceanography, Climate Studies and Physical Geography at Liverpool University. I found the maths on the course quite a challenge. It would have been useful to have maths A-level.
I found it was a real asset that I'd worked before starting university. Skills like time management and report writing were invaluable, especially as I had my second child during my degree. I had to be very disciplined, but I was determined to succeed. I was successful in getting my job because of the self-confidence and experience I'd gained through opportunities to give presentations and make contacts during my time at university.
To anyone thinking of oceanography, there are several routes into the career. I found that a broad-based ocean science undergraduate degree provided a solid grounding and allowed me to specialise later. But you can also study a single science, or mathematics, and then become an oceanographer via a Masters degree. I also feel it's important to remember that no problems are insurmountable. You just need to ask. University staff are there to help you succeed.
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