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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 Beginnings of a Scientific Research Program

Following Griffith Taylor's resignation to take up a post with the Geography Department at the University of Sydney in 1921, Edward Kidson joined the Bureau, resigning his position as Officer in Charge of the Watheroo Magnetic Observatory. With his experience as a working scientist and practical knowledge of the use of theodolites in tracking balloons, Kidson apparently brought a breath of fresh air to the stagnant organisation (Kidson [49]). It is interesting to note that Kidson's appointment closely followed Hunt's attendance at a Conference of Dominion Meteorologists held in London in 1919. Amongst the resolutions adopted at this meeting was one which asked those attending to urge their respective governments to establish upper air stations in support of the fledgling aviation industry and public forecasting (BOM [5]).

Kidson recommenced Griffith Taylor's work with balloons and assembled a small group of staff to assist him in this endeavour. Rights were performed regularly, with staff using theodolites and rangefinders to track the balloon and check the rate of ascent. Following the successful introduction of theodolite flights to Central Office, Kidson sent one of his staff to Willis Island, in the Coral Sea, in 1922 to begin observations there (Hogan [37]). The station had been established in the previous year in order to provide a cyclone watch for the Queensland coast, and Kidson presumably believed that upper air observations would assist in this process.

In 1924, the recently constituted PSB began its reorganisation of the Public Service, using the Bureau as its guinea pig. The original Professional, Clerical and General Divisions were abolished and replaced by the First, Second, Third and Fourth Divisions with the Bureau's clerical and professional staff being grouped together in the Third Division. The routine calculations, formerly done by the clerks, were given to the machinists (a newly created group within the Fourth Division) much to the clerks' relief (Hogan [37]).

This reorganisation had two other effects on the Bureau. Firstly, it created a new class of staff, known as meteorological assistants by way of a bridge to becoming a meteorologist. A number of the former clerks were placed in this category, apparently those who were undertaking some form of training prior to sitting the examination. This allowed them the opportunity to gain some practical experience, whilst undergoing their theoretical training out of hours (Mackey [54]).

People in Bright Sparcs - Hunt, Henry Ambrose ; Kidson, Edward; Taylor, Thomas Griffith

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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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