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Table of Contents

The Case of Meteorology, 1876-1908


Early Colonial Weather Reporting

The Impact of the Telegraph

Beginnings of Intercolonial Co-operation

The Intercolonial Meteorological Conferences

The Role of Clement Wragge

Towards a Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology





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The Intercolonial Meteorological Conferences (continued)

As at the previous conferences, much time was given over to discussing technical questions. It emerged, for example, that although South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland were now all issuing daily isobaric maps, no newspaper other than the Melbourne Argus would incur the expense of publishing them. No ready solution suggested itself, and it was left to each participant to reach what arrangement he could for the publication of his maps.

The best method of exposing thermometers was again discussed at length, with Wragge evidently getting under the skin of the others with his insistence that all stations should use Stevenson screens conforming rigorously to the design approved by Britain's Royal Meteorological Society (though with a slight increase in the internal dimensions of the box 'to meet the climatic conditions of this part of the world').[81] To the regret of late-twentieth-century climatolo-gists in search of evidence for or against global warming, his colleagues were less appreciative of the need for standardization. Todd felt it would be useless entering into a long debate: 'He thought it quite impossible for any one to say positively what was the best form of exposure'. Russell spoke more angrily:

they had all used the Stevenson stand, and made their own adaptations. They had before tried to come to some agreement, and had failed to do so, and he did not see what object would be gained even if they did come to an agreement. He did not think it of such vital importance to use one form of stand; they all knew that thermometers were most unreliable; he had made experiments years ago on this subject; and he thought it was not worth wasting any more time about it.

Hector likewise 'thought the matter of observing the temperature at one particular moment of time each day was of very little practical importance'. 'He would be very sorry', he said, 'to see the Conference adopt any rigid resolution on the subject, as he held very doubtful opinions of it himself.

People in Bright Sparcs - Ellery, Robert Lewis John; Russell, Henry Chamberlain; Todd, Charles; Wragge, Clement Lindley

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Home, R. W. and Livingston, K. T. 1994 'Science and Technology in the Story of Australian Federation: The Case of Meteorology, 1876-1908', Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 10, no. 2, December 1994, pp. 109-27.

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