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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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Further Exploration of the Upper Air

The next major step in the forecasting arena was an agreement between the Bureau and the RAAF, on Barkley's initiative, for the conduct of aerological flights using aircraft based near Melbourne (Cornish in a personal communication). During these flights, readings of pressure, temperature and humidity were taken at fixed intervals to an altitude of 16 000 feet, by means of large thermometers mounted on the wing struts of the aircraft, in addition to visual observations of visibility, types and altitudes of clouds, haze layers, precipitation, icing and turbulence (Loewe [52]).

Regular operations from Point Cook commenced in March 1931 (Loewe [52]), and similar flights were begun in Sydney in June 1937 and at Pearce in Western Australia during November 1938 (Radok [69]). The year 1934 saw a major exercise to conduct, presumably simultaneous, flights at a number of locations over eastern Australia ranging from Daly Waters to Hobart, during the period 1 April to 3 May (Loewe [52]).

Bristol Bulldog aircraft, at first, and later Hawker Demon aircraft were the main types used. There was also some early use of Westland Wapiti aircraft, and Wirraway aircraft had also been used by the time the operation ceased in 1944, following the setting up of the radiosonde network in 1943 (Cornish in a personal communication, Radok [69]).

However, it was not until 1933 or 1934 that Barkley introduced the tephigram, to make use of the data collected by these aircraft (Comish in a personal communication). The tephigram was an atmospheric diagram on which the research staff plotted the observations made during the flights as a means of determining atmospheric stability and other meteorological parameters. This approach was based on the work of Napier Shaw and others on the physical processes of the atmosphere.

Lillywhite[51] relates the story of how Treloar used the Melbourne results to advise Coles cafeteria on the possible lunchtime temperature and the expectation of rain, for use by Coles in their ordering of pies and other perishables for lunch. According to Cornish, in a personal communication, Coles paid the sum of £1 per week for this service and there were a number of other companies who received similar forecasts.

People in Bright Sparcs - Cornish, Allan William; Treloar, Harry Mayne

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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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