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Origins of Australian Meteorology



The Origins of Australian Meteorology
FitzRoy and Maury
Thomas Brisbane
Phillip Parker King
Charles Todd
Ellery and Neumayer
Henry Chamberlain Russell
Clement Wragge
The International Scene
The End of the Beginning

Appendix 1: Chronological Chart of Early Meteorologists



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FitzRoy and Maury (continued)

A ship following Maury's instructions arrived back in Baltimore 35 days before she was expected, using the new wind and current charts he had prepared. By 1851 1000 US ships were sending information to Maury's office.

In 1851 the US Secretary of State received a communication from the British Government suggesting a uniform plan for meteorological observations. The British had not been entirely lacking in their study of winds and currents at sea as attested by the efforts of Rennell, Reid and Marsden. The matter apparently died in the labyrinth of British bureaucracy and Maury was forced to take action himself and with the authority of the Navy Secretary sent out notifications to assenting countries that a conference would be held.

Thus it was largely because of Maury's efforts that the first international meteorological conference was held in Brussels in August 1853. Maury had already begun the preparation of wind and current charts for the maritime areas of the world and the main object of this first conference was to achieve a uniform system of meteorological observations at sea. At the conference Maury stated:

The navies of all maritime nations should cooperate and make these meteorological observations in such a manner and with such means and implements, that the system might be uniform and observations made on board one public ship be readily referred to and compared with the observations made on board all other public ships in whatever part of the world. And, moreover, as it is desirable to enlist the voluntary cooperation of the commercial marine as well as that of the military of all nations, in this system of research, it becomes not only proper, but politic, that the forms of the abstract log to be used, the description of the instruments to be employed, the things to be observed, with the manipulation of the instruments and the methods and modes of observation should be the joint work of the principal parties concerned.

Ten countries were represented at the Brussels conference. This initial meeting was followed by meetings in Leipzig in 1872 and Vienna in 1873. The meeting in Vienna is considered to be that at which the first international meteorological organisation was established and the centenary was celebrated in Vienna and Geneva in 1973. As we will see later it was not long before Australian meteorologists were playing a considerable role in international meteorological activities.

People in Bright Sparcs - FitzRoy, Robert; Maury, Matthew Fontaine

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Gibbs, W. J. 1998 'The Origins of Australian Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 12 June 1998, Bureau of Meteorology

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