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Table of Contents

History of Research in the Bureau of Meteorology




Chapter 1: Germination and Growth
The First Three Decades
A Time of Rapid Growth

Chapter 2: Struggle, Competition and Emergence

Appendix 1: Meteorology Act 1906

Appendix 2: Meteorology Act 1955

Appendix 3: Simpson Report

Appendix 4: Survey Questionnaire

Appendix 5: Bibliography



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The Struggle for Growth

This increased collaboration and the underlying acceptance that the weather did not recognise state boundaries led to the Commonwealth Government being given specific powers under Section 51 (viii) of the Constitution, to make laws with respect to meteorological observations.

The taking of such a step required some prior discussion and so a conference of the heads of the state astronomical/meteorological organisations was held in Adelaide from 11 to 16 May 1905. In the light of subsequent events, it is interesting to note that this conference[43] (at which no practising meteorologists were present, apart from Todd) recommended against transferring forecasting to the new federal body, on the grounds that such a move would militate against efficient and reliable weather forecasts and the maintenance of an accurate observations network. Instead, it was decided that the Central Bureau should be given control of the overall organisation of the weather service, in addition to responsibility for theoretical and scientific meteorology.

However, a major disagreement arose between the Victorian Government Astronomer, Pietro Baracchi, and his colleagues regarding the conference recommendations, particularly those relating to the responsibilities of the Government Astronomers under the proposed new scheme. Baracchi wanted to see the meteorological services completely divorced from the Observatories and transferred to a new federal organisation, whereas his opponents wished to see them remain under the purview of the Government Astronomer (in those states where one existed) and allowing only a limited role for the new Commonwealth institution[43].

In the event, the new Commonwealth Meteorology Act of August 1906 only allowed for the transfer of all existing state meteorological functions to the central authorities (a course the states all chose to follow), but made no reference at all to scientific or theoretical meteorology. So Baracchi's arguments were accepted, in that the State Government Astronomers were relieved of their meteorological duties but, unfortunately for the Bureau, no mention was made of the scientific investigation of meteorology by the new department. Basically then, the Bureau was looked upon as a service, as opposed to a scientific organisation, there to provide weather forecasts and climatological information only.

People in Bright Sparcs - Baracchi, Pietro; Todd, Charles

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Gardner, J. 1997 'Stormy Weather: A History of Research in the Bureau of Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 11 December 1997, Bureau of Meteorology

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