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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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Retrospect (continued)

Initially, this tension between the day-to-day pressures of a government-controlled service provider and the long-term goals of a research institution, particularly at a time when the numbers of qualified staff were very small, led to calls for the research to be undertaken by outside organisations, as outlined in the Simpson report.

This report allowed the CSIRO to move into the field of meteorological research, which it correctly believed had been previously neglected by the Bureau, and to establish its own Meteorological Physics Section. Whilst the Bureau was initially happy for the CSIRO to carry out work in this field so long as it did not intrude into what the Bureau saw as its own particular areas of interest, some rivalry did arise as each side jockeyed for control of what was becoming an increasingly interesting and worthwhile area of research, from the point of view of both meteorology and the economy in general.

Unfortunately for the Bureau, the fact that it came under the purview of the PSB, even though it had its own Act of Parliament, meant that it could not obtain permission to employ research scientists, despite an intense lobbying effort supported by its Minister and Departmental Secretary. In this respect it was quite different from CSIRO, which had the power under its Act to employ whatever staff it needed to carry out its legislative functions and to provide them with conditions appropriate to their skills and experience.

Eventually forced by the bureaucrats to the compromise which later gave rise to CMRC and ANMRC, the Bureau's leadership never relinquished the idea of the organisation having its own scientists researching topics of relevance to its particular service requirements. Thus whilst the Bureau and CSIRO staff generally cooperated well in achieving international recognition for the work of CMRC and ANMRC, their respective chiefs were in serious conflict over control of the direction and application of research results.

Nonetheless, the rapid growth in the field of meteorological/climatological research following the announcement of the greenhouse effect hypothesis and its implications for the earth's future climate has provided a wide range of challenging and rewarding topics of study for as many research groups as can obtain the necessary funding. Thus, in addition to BMRC and CSIRO, there are now a number of university-based centres doing work in this area, either alone or in some form of collaborative effort. At the same time, teams within BMRC, the Bureau's Head Office and each of its state offices are undertaking research into various aspects of weather forecasting on a number of different synoptic scales and time frames.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre

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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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