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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up
Early Australian Meteorologists
Early Days in the Bureau
Forecasters' Training Course
My Classmates
Reorganisation of the Bureau
Love and Marriage

Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour

Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour

Chapter 4: Allied Air Force HQ and RAAF Command, Brisbane

Chapter 5: Japan Surrenders and We Are Demobilised



Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Milestones

Appendix 3: Papers Published in Tropical Weather Research Bulletins

Appendix 4: Radiosonde Observations 1941–46


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Forecasters' Training Course (continued)

Sverre Petterssen's text, Weather Analysis and Forecasting, was more easily understood and provided a guide for the practising meteorologists. It contained a simple explanation of the physics of atmospheric processes and discussed the Bjerknes-Bergeron polar front model at some length. This model envisaged the front as the boundary between air-masses of different temperature on which low pressure systems developed.

For me the most interesting exercise in our course was the synoptic analysis of weather maps. After plotting observations on the surface chart we proceeded to make an isobaric analysis and endeavour to detect polar fronts. Lack of information presented a major problem. The use of radar for wind-finding or weather watching was not available at that time. Indeed at that time radar was hush-hush and in the process of being developed for wartime detection of enemy aircraft and ships. The launching of satellites for observation of cloud patterns and other meteorological information was 20 years off. A radiosonde capable of observing the temperature and humidity of the upper air was in the early stages of development in the USA.

The extent of networks of surface observations was limited to the Australian continent. New Zealand and a few island stations. Observations were not available from the uninhabited Heard and Macquarie Islands and the Antarctic continent. Very few observations were available from the vast oceans surrounding Australia because of wartime restrictions on transmissions from ships. Telecommunications were primitive by today's standards. We awaited the development of the transistor and the electronic computer to provide the technological base needed to improve the availability of observations.

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Gibbs, W. J. 1995 'A Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 7 March 1995, Bureau of Meteorology

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