Elke Louw

Elke Louw

Manager Marine and Regional Weather Services,

Meteorological Service of New Zealand


“I have seen a significant increase in the number of women studying meteorology over the past 5 years. That brings about different levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) to the work environment and diverse ways of thinking.”


With a post-graduate degree in Meteorology and over 10 years of combined operational forecasting and management experience, including work at two national meteorological services (of South Africa and New Zealand), Ms Louw is now the Manager of Marine and Regional Weather Services at MetService. She leads a diverse and talented team to deliver maritime safety information and forecasts to New Zealand’s marine community and industry. She is also Coordinator of METAREA XIV, one of the twenty-one geographical sea regions, charged with coordinating the provision of meteorological ocean information and warning service covering the South Pacific and Southern Oceans south of the equator.

Why marine meteorology?

She was fascinated with weather from a young age, stemming from the frequent thunderstorms in her hometown of Pretoria. Her love for marine meteorology came about after a visit to a sub-Antarctic Island, which involved several days of travel by ship and having to provide forecasts to the Captain and the crew.

Key to success

Ms Louw states that perseverance, being open to new experiences, learning, establishing good working relationships by building networks both internally and externally has helped her to achieve where she is today. Ms Louw was one of the participants of the JCOMM Women's Marine Leadership Workshop in 2017, which she found incredibly valuable for providing her with additional skills and strengthening her network with fellow international women in the field of marine meteorology and oceanography.

Overcoming challenges

One of the main challenges that Ms Louw encountered during her career is changing the perception that other people have. She believes that can be overcome by self-belief, pushing yourself out of the comfort zone and surrounding yourself with those that support you.

“During the JCOMM Women's Marine Leadership Workshop, it was fascinating to see that no matter where in the world we were from, we were all either experiencing or had encountered similar barriers, such as having to change perceptions of ourselves, that we were capable and good at the roles that we were in, encountering a male dominated environment and making our voices heard.”

Advice to young female scientists

  • Stay focused
  • Think of the bigger picture
  • Surround yourself with fellow female scientists that can support you and
  • Be your own champion. 

Interviewed in May 2019