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Table of Contents

History of Research in the Bureau of Meteorology




Chapter 1: Germination and Growth

Chapter 2: Struggle, Competition and Emergence
The Struggle for Recognition
International Involvement
Local Cooperation
The Bureau Goes Solo

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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Local Cooperation

The Foundations

On the local front, however, the Bureau of the 1960s saw itself as playing an important role in the organisation and conduct of high level international research, without its achievements being recognised at home. At the same time, discussions with former Bureau staff suggest that with its increasing exposure to this field the Bureau became much more conscious of its inability to attract well trained research staff (Gibbs et al., in personal communications). Once again this was in large part due to the restrictions of the Public Service Act under which it operated.

It should be noted here that Gibbs was the first director of the Bureau to possess postgraduate qualifications in meteorology plus an understanding of meteorological research, having worked in the Bureau's Research Section since 1946. With this background, he believed that Bureau staff were more than capable of conducting research and other work at a level equivalent to that of the research scientist. It would appear that he resented CSIRO'S intrusion into the field, especially with their greater resources and perceived cult of elitism (Gibbs [31]).

Matters were brought to a head early in 1964, following a series of submissions that Gibbs made for improved resources for his organisation (ANMRC [4]). Three of these, for increased staffing levels, the purchase of a computer and the creation of a World Meteorological Centre in Melbourne, were readily accepted by the government. A fourth, for the Bureau to have staff of the research scientist category to strengthen research activities met with strong resistance from Treasury and the PSB, unfortunately for the Bureau.

The rejection of this latter proposal contrasted strongly with the immediate acceptance of Priestley's 1964 submission for a significant expansion of his research team, from its 1951 size of nine scientists (ANMRC [4]). It would appear that not all areas of government shared Gibbs' view that the Bureau was ready to take on the research role or that it was necessary for it to do so. No doubt, whilst the government's acceptance of three items was a major achievement in itself, to miss out on the icing did not help soothe Gibbs' feelings on the matter.

People in Bright Sparcs - Gibbs, William James (Bill); Priestley, Charles Henry Brian (Bill)

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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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