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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up

Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour

Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour

Chapter 4: Allied Air Force HQ and RAAF Command, Brisbane
General Douglas MacArthur
We Join Allied Air Headquarters, Brisbane
Ralph Holmes
Forecasting Procedure
WAAAFs and Other Staff
Briefing MacArthur & Co
Domestic Affairs
The Yanks Are Coming
Japanese Advance Across Owen Stanley Range
General George C. Kenney
Additional Staff
Staff Arrangements
Long Range Forecast
Investigations into Tropical Meteorology
Analysis Statements
MacArthur's Remarkable Strategy
A New Direction
Tropical Weather Research Bulletin
RAAF Command, Pat Squires and Henry Phillpot

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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Forecasting Procedure (continued)

In our Allied Air Headquarters meteorological section we used the concept of air-masses and polar fronts as the basis of our routine synoptic analysis. The identification of air-masses was considered an essential component in frontal analysis and weather forecasting. Air-masses were identified by their assumed area of origin. Thus a 'polar maritime' air-mass was assumed to have acquired its characteristics (cold, moist) from the higher latitudes of the Southern Ocean. The characteristics of a 'tropical continental' air-mass (warm to hot, and dry) were assumed to derive from modification of air over arid regions of Australia. A 'tropical maritime' air-mass (warm, moist) derived its characteristics from modification of air over the ocean in latitudes from about 15 deg to 35 deg latitude while an equatorial maritime' air-mass (hot and humid) acquired its characteristic from the equatorial ocean.

From today's perspective one may wonder why a more appropriate model was not used. It must be remembered that at that time our standard textbooks were those of Brunt and Petterssen, with the latter having the more practical usefulness for the weather forecaster. Petterssen's textbook devoted separate chapters to the subjects of air-masses and fronts. There was much to recommend the use of the polar front model for synoptic analysis and forecasting in latitudes poleward of 35 or 40 degrees and the identification of different types of air-masses was useful in weather forecasting.

The 'front' was a useful concept in identifying and tracking long bands of cloud, usually associated with a wind shift and sometimes yielding rain, which usually moved to the north and east over the Australian continent and were highly significant in military operations. It was common practice to believe that the front could be 'active' (yielding cloud and rain) or 'inactive' (with no cloud or rain). The synoptic analyses of some meteorologists contained an array of parallel fronts from which any cloud or rain which occurred could be explained as the result of an active front, while if a front were not accompanied by cloud or rain it was regarded as 'inactive'.

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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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