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Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
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 Role of Clement Wragge (continued)

Such comments doubtless enraged Wragge's fellow meteorologists. Yet there was no gainsaying his energy and competence in tackling his duties. Under his direction, Queensland's network of meteorological observing stations was dramatically improved. He also supplied instruments for stations on Norfolk Island and in New Guinea, New Caledonia and Fiji.[88] In 1895 the Tasmanian government engaged him to establish a meteorological observatory on the summit of Mount Wellington, near Hobart, and to report on the colony's meteorological service. His visit led to significant improvements, especially in the standardization of instruments and their use.[89] Two years later, he was the prime mover in establishing a meteorological station on the summit of Australia's highest mountain, Mount Kosciusko.[90]

By the late 1890s, Wragge's ubiquitous 'Special Australasian Forecasts' for all colonies were appearing in newspapers throughout the colonies, alongside forecasts provided by the other government meteorologists for their own colonies. Readers of the Sydney Morning Herald had the opportunity, for example, on 25 January 1900, of comparing Todd's forecast for South Australia ('Fine throughout, mostly clear, warmer light E (S.E. to N.E.) winds, tending N. smooth seas') with Wragge's forecast for the same region ('Fine generally, with some clouds, and a tendency to showers in the south-east under easterly and S.E. currents; sea moderate: a hot wave will shortly be approaching').[91] Todd recorded the South Australian outcomes systematically and took pleasure, on the eve of his retirement, in reporting the result. He had 'kept a strict record for a period of over 12 years (1891 to 1902) of the local forecasts and those issued by Brisbane'. He set out the results in a table showing forecasts categorized as 'Right' or 'Partially or Wholly Wrong', and concluded that while his had been verified to the extent of 83 per cent, only 62 per cent of Wragge's had been right. 'These figures', Todd said, 'speak for themselves'.[92]

People in Bright Sparcs - 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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