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Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology


Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1929–1946 by Allan Cornish
Chapter 1: My Early Days in the Bureau
Chapter 2: Some New Vistas
Chapter 3: The RAAF Measures Upper Air Temperatures
Chapter 4: The Bureau Begins to Grow
Chapter 5: My Voyage in Discovery II
Chapter 6: The Birth of the Instrument Section
Chapter 7: Darwin Days
Chapter 8: I Leave the Bureau

History of Major Meteorological Installation in Australia from 1945 to 1981 by Reg Stout

Four Years in the RAAF Meteorological Service by Keith Swan

The Bureau of Meteorology in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s by Col Glendinning


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Chapter 5: My Voyage in Discovery II (continued)

Soundings were made simultaneously from bow and stern to considerable depths. The measuring devices at bow and stern were at great depths so it required great skill in manoeuvering the ship to avoid entanglement of one with the other. The seamanship was superb.

A tapered wire of magnificent quality was suspended from the bow with a heavy weight on the end. The drum on which the wire was wound had a counter which indicated the depth of the weight in metres and was driven by a beautiful little steam engine.

Devices, each carrying a steel bottle, were attached to the wire at fixed intervals as the heavy weight was lowered. The bottles were open at each end with a spring attached to seal the bottles. It would take about three hours to make the soundings and recover the bottles. When the wire was lowered to its ultimate depth a weight was attached to the wire. This weight would slide down the wire and when it hit the first device it would trip the mechanism, turn the bottle over and lock it up. The mechanism would then release the weight which would slide down and trip the next bottle. It used to take about 30 minutes for the weight to get to the bottom.

If you placed your hand on the wire you could feel the devices being tripped. The next action was to haul up the bottles. It was important to stop the small steam-engine hauling in the wire at the right time to retrieve the bottles. As soon as each bottle was removed the science bloke would put it in the rack and label it.

About midnight people would go to bed. The next day they would get to work reducing the observations of salinity, temperature and other observations.

Marine biology was an important part of the ship's scientific program. A large net which could be closed by attaching a weight to slide down the cable holding the net to trip the closing mechanism was used. The net needed to be in the process of being hauled upwards at a steady rate for the net-closing mechanism to operate. The net operated over a great range of depths and when brought up samples of marine life would collected and examined. The net was operated from the stern of the ship in parallel with the oceanographic soundings from the bow.

People in Bright Sparcs - Cornish, Allan William

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Cornish, A., Stout, R., Swan, K and Glendinning, C. 1996 'Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 8 February 1996, Bureau of Meteorology

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