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Ask the Expert: An Interview with Karsten Shein

Meteorology | July 31, 2015

Author: Staff

Karstein Shein is a climatologist at the NOAA. A longtime Subject Matter Expert for, Karsten created our meteorology topic, which includes training on thunderstorms, mountain waves, fog, and ice crystals, among other phenomena.

What is your background (as it relates to your training)?

My original career track was to be a commercial pilot, but that changed when some major airlines went bust and flooded the market with high time pilots. Since I loved the weather, I continued on in school to get my degrees in climatology. After my Masters degree, I went to work at Professional Pilot magazine, where I started writing aviation weather articles. Eventually I received Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and worked as a professor of meteorology and climatology for a few years before joining NOAA as a climatologist.

What appealed to you about’s online training model and/or content?

I was attracted to’s vision of delivering quality training to pilots wherever they may be, and the fact that such training couldn’t simply be extracted from a textbook and be effective.

Why do you think regular meteorology training is so important for pilots?

Few jobs in the world are more closely tied to the weather and dependent on a solid understanding of its behavior. Regular meteorological training is essential partly because the atmosphere is very complex and no one can hope to learn it all in just a few lessons, but also because a lot of what we learn can be forgotten over time, especially if we don’t encounter those particular conditions. Regular review keeps us sharp and ready for what the atmosphere might throw our way.

What is one key thing that you hope trainees will take away from your course?

I am hopeful that trainees will have a healthy respect for the power of the atmosphere and the dangers it poses…By better understanding the atmosphere we are better equipped to avoid the worst conditions and handle the rest without incident.

Do you have a question for Karsten or another Subject Matter Expert? Email with “ask the expert” in the subject heading. We’ll be answering questions in our bimonthly e-newsletter.

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