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Table of Contents

RAAF Meteorological Service



Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare
The Weather and Chemical Warfare
Weather Control

Chapter 2: Establishing and Developing the RAAF Directorate of Met. Services (D.Met.S)

Chapter 3: Recruiting and Training of Personnel

Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation

Chapter 5: The Met. Retreating

Chapter 6: The Met. Advancing

Chapter 7: The Met With the Army and the Navy

Chapter 8: Divisional Offices of the Bureau of Meteorology During the War

Chapter 9: Research and Instrumental Development

Chapter 10: The End, Aftermath, and Beyond

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4



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Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare (continued)

The general effects of weather conditions on surprise operations, general mobility, communications and equipment had to be reckoned with at all times. The ever-present challenge to military strategy has been how to take advantage of weather conditions and use them effectively in warfare. In turn, the onus has devolved on meteorologists to provide accurate and reliable weather information and forecasts. The essential task of a forecaster in the planning of a military operation is to predict the meteorological conditions at the time of the initial strike. If the commander is thus given the opportunity to deliver the first blow under favourable conditions, the forecaster significantly fulfils his role.

Unfortunately, accurate forecasting in the tropical Pacific was extremely difficult. At the outset of World War II virtually nothing was known about the weather in this vast area. Remote as it was from the modern social, industrial world, meteorologists had paid little attention to the region. Weather conditions were found to be vastly different to the much more consistent and predictable patterns of higher latitudes, and they remained a constant challenge to the meteorologist. Faced with a dearth of information, and a sparse scatter of reporting centres—much of which was cut off early in the war by the advancing Japanese—the Allied weather man was often frustrated. Most of the data in remote regions had to be collected by aircraft reconnaissance and from ships and army outposts. Even when he had such data, the capricious behaviour of tropical weather systems often made forecasting for any useful period unreliable. The scant knowledge available hour by hour, day by day, of tropical airmasses—so vital to any understanding—made prediction of the weather very uncertain. Pilot balloons usually vanished into low cloud before their ascent could be read and interpreted. Radar and radiosonde were not generally available in the very early stages of the war; the satellites of today were, of course, unknown. Equipment was often inadequate and susceptible to damage by the insidious tropical environment. Consequently, much was left to the meteorologist's experience, native ability and intuition. If it is true that a pilot often flew his aircraft by the seat of his pants, then a meteorological officer in the tropics often issued a forecast off the top of his head.

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Joyce, J. 1993 'The Story of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 5 October 1993, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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