NCDC Insider: Meet Climate Scientist, Jessica Blunden
Have you ever wondered who writes the monthly global climate reports? Her name is Jessica Blunden, and she is a climate scientist with ERT, Inc., working here, at NCDC. In addition to writing those reports, which analyze global temperature and precipitation, Jessica is a lead editor for the annual State of the Climate series that is a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Jessica’s academic training is in atmospheric chemistry and air quality. She did her fieldwork and research in this area for both her Master’s and Doctorate degrees, but she wasn’t always an atmospheric scientist. Before she became a scientist, Jessica spent several years working in the hospitality and tourism industry. During that time, she always felt something was missing. “I eventually came to the realization that atmospheric science was my true calling,” Jessica said. Her love of weather and climate first blossomed in Mrs. Heath’s eighth grade science class. Jessica found her teacher fascinating and loved studying clouds and weather phenomena.
One of the biggest challenges Jessica faced in her career was completely changing focus a few years after she obtained her undergraduate degree in business management. She went back to school part-time at the University of North Carolina—Asheville while continuing to work. Eight years later, she obtained her Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. She found it especially challenging to enter this particular career “late,” as most atmospheric scientists have been scientists their entire careers. Jessica has no regrets about her decision to change gears mid-flight and feels that her background gives her a unique view with respect to her work and how she approaches it.
Jessica grew up in a geodesic dome that her dad built from a Buckminster Fuller kit in the 1970s. And, outside of her career life, she is married to another climate scientist and is a mom to 3-year old twin daughters. She loves to hike and run in her spare time. Before her girls were born, she ran marathons, but now she finds that it takes more energy to run after her girls than to run a marathon! “Our hikes get longer as the girls get older, but we don’t venture too far yet, mostly enjoying trails around the North Carolina Arboretum and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our lofty goal is to one day hike the Appalachian Trail end to end,” says Jessica.
Stay tuned for the next edition of NCDC Insider to meet more of the Center’s dedicated staff.