||Federation and Meteorology
Table of Contents
Seventy-Five Years at Willis Island
Chapter 1: Willis Island Today
Chapter 2: Willis Island is Conceived
Chapter 3: Willis Island is Born
Chapter 4: The Early Years
Chapter 5: Life in the 1930s
Chapter 6: Willis Island at War (194142)
Chapter 7: After the War
Chapter 8: Willis Island1960s Style
Chapter 9: The Value of Willis Island
Chapter 10: The Original Inhabitants
Appendix 1: Willis Island Milestones
Appendix 2: Willis Island Officers
Appendix 3: Log of Willis Island Observations, December 1922
Appendix 4: References
Appendix 1: Willis Island Milestones
Over the 75 years since it was established Willis Island has, in line with other stations, provided observations which have improved both in quality and range. The following is a brief summary of the main upgrades in equipment which has made this possible:
November 1921Surface Observations began with descriptive reports of weather and cloud. Rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind and pressure were measured. Stevenson screens were used to house thermometerswet bulb, dry bulb, maximum and minimum.
Observations, and any other communication with the mainland was by hand Morse key.
Late 1920sFirst coded messages allowing concise reporting.
1927Pilot balloon theodolite observations (assumed rate of ascent) commenced. A portable gramophone was also supplied.
1929Tramway from beach to wireless hut reconstructed.
1930Swimming pool constructed in a shingle platform.
1931Bureau observers withdrawn. Station manned by AWA staff alone who had some basic training in observations.
1934Tramway to living hut constructed.
1937Underground water tank (6000 gallon capacity) built.
1939Bureau Observers once again part of the crew. Normal staffing at this timetwo AWA wireless operators, the senior being OIC, plus one observer. This also marks the beginning of the permanent continuous record of observations in the National Climate Database.
1941Swimming pool rebuilt.
Late 1940sTheodolite Neph reports commenced.
1952Station completely rebuilt.
October 1958Anemometer replaced by a Dines (previous type unknown). Thermograph, hydrograph and Dines pluviograph installed.
1958HF voice radio replaced the Morse key, which was maintained as a backup.
May 1960Installation of the 72 MHz radiosonde brought the commencement of combined pilot balloon/radio sonde flights (SOWIN) at 9am (2300 UTC).
1960Larger balloon filling/hydrogen generation shed built (dates of previous installations uncertain).
1966Major refurbishment of radio equipment with the installation of a Single Side Band radio. As a result, radio operators of AWA and OTC were no longer required. Administrative responsibility transferred from OTC to the Bureau.
June 1967First staff complement of all Bureau staff.
November 1967Last use of DUKWs and first use of Lighter Amphibious Recovery Craft (LARCs) in effecting the changeover. Both were used in this changeover.
May 1968WF2 radar and 401 MHz radiosonde system commissioned. This allowed measured rates of ascent for both upper wind and temperature flights. The restrictions on visual theodolite flights caused by cloud were also removed.
Standard design balloon filling/hydrogen generation shed built.
Mid 1970sSolar radiation measurements commenced.
1986Iterra satellite telephone system installed.
August 1991Micromac AWS installednote the thermograph and hydrograph had been removed some time earlier.
1991WF2 radar replaced by WF100 combined wind-finding and weather watch radar. Tropical Cyclone positioning close to the Island could now be done with great accuracy. Better estimates of intensity were also possible as forecasters were able to 'see' the 'back' of a cyclone as it got closer to the coast.
1994Installation of an electrolyser system to replace cylinder generation of hydrogen.
1996Remote balloon launcher installed.
© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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