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Table of Contents

RAAF Meteorological Service



Chapter 1: The Weather Factor in Warfare

Chapter 2: Establishing and Developing the RAAF Directorate of Met. Services (D.Met.S)

Chapter 3: Recruiting and Training of Personnel

Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation
The RAAF Meteorological Flight
Hazards Galore

Chapter 5: The Met. Retreating

Chapter 6: The Met. Advancing

Chapter 7: The Met With the Army and the Navy

Chapter 8: Divisional Offices of the Bureau of Meteorology During the War

Chapter 9: Research and Instrumental Development

Chapter 10: The End, Aftermath, and Beyond

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4



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Chapter 4: Meteorology in Aviation

The two essential meteorological requirements for aviation are adequate up-to-date reports and information, and accurate forecasting. Before World War II, meteorology had been confined to the lowest level of the earth's atmosphere. Surface observations formed the basis of synoptic meteorology, which is essentially the basis of the synoptic construction and study of maps. These maps show the results of simultaneous observations at different localities, of barometric pressure, wind, temperature, and other weather factors. By drawing isobars, the systems known as cyclones and anticyclones were first recognised. These systems and their associated weather elements tend to persist, moving generally from west to east across the world at a speed that can be determined by drawing up-dated maps at regular intervals—usually three-hourly. Knowledge and interpretation of the weather elements that accompany the pressure systems once formed the basis of forecasting. However, it was not possible to forecast conditions in the upper atmosphere from maps based only on surface observations. Mellor gives an illustration of the inadequacy of meteorological information available to Germany in the 1914–1918 war, the instance when some Zeppelins set out to bomb London:
'Because of their crew's ignorance of the direction and strength of the winds blowing over England at the time of the raid, the Zeppelins failed to reach their target, and dropped their bombs on the east coast towns instead!' [26]

Because of the disruption of the usual system of collection of surface observations from different European countries during World War I, Norwegian meteorologists, V. and J. Bjerknes (father and son) developed the theory of frontal analysis, which was soon widely applied to weather forecasting in the northern hemisphere—and later, interpreted appropriately for the southern hemisphere.

From the mid-1930s, the rapid growth of civil aviation in Australia made heavy demands for meteorological services. More frequent weather reports were required, and additional details such as visibility and height of cloud bases and tops were needed. Much of the expansion of the Met. in the pre-World War II period was associated with the developing aviation industry. Late in 1936, an English expert was brought to Australia to investigate requirements. As a result, the nucleus of an aviation meteorological service was formed in 1937, and qualified Met. officers were placed in charge of newly established airport weather offices. One of the first of these was at Essendon, Victoria. These officers were mainly graduates of the first forecasters' course conducted at the Melbourne Met. bureau.

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Joyce, J. 1993 'The Story of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 5 October 1993, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher