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Posted at 02:54 PM ET, 10/04/2012

Help wanted on meteorologically important island of Gough, if you can find it


Gough Island expedition photo by Chantal Steyn. More photos.
Interested in one of the coolest jobs in the world?

You would have to apply to work on the island of Gough, which is extremely isolated but signficant for weather forecasting.

Although visually stunning, the harsh conditions may weed out even some of the greatest wanderlusters and nature enthusiasts.

South Africa staffs this island for its unique scientific and strategic significance to the nation. Weather systems in that part of the southern hemisphere move similarly to our part of the northern hemisphere—from west to east.

To have meteorologists on this island noting storm conditions well ahead of any impact on mainland South Africa is thus important, given the limited observations available with so much water to the west of South Africa (satellites can see but not experience approaching weather!).


Don’t think that the job application process is a breeze though. A whole department within the South African government appears to be set up deliberately so that it can test and assure the psychological well-being of folks going to Gough Island and to other expeditions even further south, into Antarctica.

Not the entire application questionnaire seems so serious though. Make sure you know your favorite television shows so that you can complete the end of page 7.

I suppose the presence of the United States in the Arctic is analogous to South Africa’s regional interest in Antarctica. South Africa is deep into the southern hemisphere and arguably has weather interest and economic considerations with Antarctica not that far away, right?

Expeditions, training, semi-permanent residency is setup in three different locations by the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP). So, if you can’t get to Gough Island you could try the cold weather in Antarctica at Sanae.

Perhaps you’d rather stay in the Subantarctic? Then what may be more your hat is Marion Island. Point is, you can try your luck at the other available positions. It is hard to say what profession or line of work may be in most demand at any given time, so stay flexible.

Should you get an interview, make sure you know one key fact: Gough is pronounced “goff” and not “go” or otherwise. If you are lucky enough to interview in-person, be sure to check out the uniquely gorgeous and weather-intriguing Cape Town vicinity. The unlucky part after that-- should you land a Gough Island position--is that you would potentially travel the 1,600 miles from Cape Town…by boat.

For over 50 years it has been an island of teams (six or so workers) that end up being there for about 13 months at a time.

Resembling the island from Lost, I suggest you hike away from any smoke monsters, but still wander its grand-looking hills.

The weather is extremely volatile.

“The climate is harsh with high rainfall and one could experience all four seasons in one day,” Richard Skinner, deputy director of Southern Ocean and Antarctic support told CNBC.

I wonder if the island mystique could wear off after a 13-month stint there?

Recently gaining more press, CNBC.com has caught wind of this potentially nifty opportunity, so time may be running out with more eyeballs glancing at this niche set of jobs.

Right now there doesn’t appear to be a meteorologist position open. But perhaps after the current team stationing the island are returned to mainland South Africa, I will be able to start blogging for you from Gough next year!?

By  |  02:54 PM ET, 10/04/2012

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