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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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As we have seen, the Bureau's transformation from Public Service backwater to major player in the international meteorological community was characterised by behaviour ranging from self-imposed inertia to occasional bouts of intense bickering with the CSIRO as to which body was best qualified to control the direction of meteorological research in this country. On the one hand, CSIRO claimed that as the national research organisation it alone had the staff and resources necessary to mount a successful attack on the problems involved. For its part, the Bureau strongly believed that as the sole provider of meteorological services it should have, at the very least, a major say in the direction of that research and, at best, a research group of its own to carry out work consistent with its area of expertise.

The fact that this transformation largely mirrored the changes occurring in overseas institutions does not detract from the effort the Bureau expended in achieving it, especially during the last four decades when it paralleled a major expansion in the range and variety of Bureau services. Forecasting practice within the Bureau has also altered in the period since its inception, from being a system based almost entirely on the personal knowledge of duty forecasters to one involving a mix between numerical models, derived from a physical understanding of the atmosphere and the local knowledge of forecasters situated as close to the forecast region as practicable and providing the link between the model and the world outside their window.

Despite Kohlrausch's warning quoted at the beginning of this paper, it would appear that physicists were the first to tackle the problems inherent in gaining a better understanding of the dynamics of the atmosphere. It was hoped that this knowledge would eventually lead to a more accurate system of weather forecasting than that which was in use well into the 1930s (Ashford [1]). Once it became obvious that physics could provide assistance in dealing with atmospheric circulation, then the various meteorological institutions were obliged to recruit science graduates to apply this knowledge on a day-to-day basis. As graduate numbers grew to a sufficient size, pressure mounted for research work to be undertaken within the organisation itself on the grounds that it would both increase the scientific health and professional standing of those working there and the status of the institution itself. This, in turn, would assist it in recruiting more highly qualified staff, thus reinforcing the pressure for research and repeating the pattern yet again.

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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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