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Table of Contents

Memories of the Bureau, 1946 to 1962



J. W. Zillman Director of Meteorology
The Seven Stages in the Life and Career of Dr W. J. Gibbs
The Meteorological Legacy of Dr Gibbs
Dr Gibb's Career—An Appreciation


Chapter 1: The Warren Years, 1946 to 1950

Chapter 2: International Meteorology

Chapter 3: The Timcke Years, 1950 to 1955

Chapter 4: A Year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chapter 5: The Dwyer Years, 1955 to 1962

Chapter 6: A Springboard for the Future

Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Reports, Papers, Manuscripts

Appendix 3: Milestones

Appendix 4: Acknowledgements

Appendix 5: Summary by H. N. Warren of the Operation of the Meteorological Section of Allied Air Headquarters, Brisbane, 1942–45



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The Seven Stages in the Life and Career of Dr W. J. Gibbs (continued)

The sixth stage of Bill's career began with his appointment as Australia's sixth Director of Meteorology on 23 August 1962. He had already been acting in that role for three months following the sudden death of Mr Dwyer and came to the position with an already uniquely broad background in both research and operational meteorology at both the national and international levels. He moved quickly on many fronts to equip the Bureau for the major scientific and operational challenges of the 1960s and 1970s. With the support of key figures from CSIRO and the broader scientific community, he initiated a series of actions which were later to lead to the recognition and strengthening of the essential research role of the Bureau. With the strong support of the Minister for the Interior, the Hon Doug Anthony, and Permanent Head, Mr Dick (later Sir Richard) Kingsland, he prepared a major proposal for improved resourcing of the Bureau which was eventually approved by the Cabinet and led to the period of great strengthening of the scientific and service capability of the Bureau through the second half of the 1960s. Bill established a new and improved basis for the provision of meteorological services for civil aviation and initiated a period of much closer relations with the media. Building on the opportunities opened up by weather satellites, he conceived, and steered into existence, Australia's role as the operator of one of the three World Centres of the newly established WMO World Weather Watch in the mid 1960s and, by the late 1960s, had ensured that the Bureau acquired a world class computing capability to support that role. He reorganised the Bureau and implemented the concept of Regional Forecasting Centres within each of the Bureau's Regional Offices. Scientifically, he provided personal leadership in studies of Australian drought, climate change, rainmaking and satellite data interpretation. In 1967, he was elected to the position of First Vice President of WMO and, in 1971, he was reelected for a second four-year term after a tied first vote and the inadvertent absence of the Principal Delegate of a supporting country deprived him of the Presidency of WMO which many in the Organization had seen as his by merit and by virtue of his widely acknowledged leadership role in the Organization over the previous decade. Back in Australia, he initiated the major logistic operation of consolidating the scattered Head Office elements of the Bureau in a new Headquarters building at 150 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, in 1974. He continued to champion the scientific role and operational independence of the Bureau, a stance which brought him into conflict with the then Department of Science Permanent Head, Sir Hugh Ennor, over the period 1974–76 but which was powerfully vindicated by the outcome of the Independent Committee of Inquiry into the Bureau (CIBM) in 1976. Following the appointment of a new Permanent Head, the late Dr John Farrands, to succeed Sir Hugh in 1977, Bill retired as Director of Meteorology on 14 July 1978.

Bill began the seventh, retirement, stage of his career with several years of active involvement in the climate issue, through his participation in the (First) World Climate Conference of February 1979 (which had been convened on the advice of a WMO Panel he had chaired in the mid 1970s) and subsequently his attachment for part of 1980 and 1981 to the World Climate Programme Office in WMO Headquarters in Geneva. In 1982, he was awarded the twenty-seventh IMO Prize, the highest international award in meteorology. At about the same time, he began in earnest his remarkable almost single-handed effort to preserve, catalogue and systematise the widely scattered material bearing on the history of Australian meteorology and especially of the Bureau. In addition to overseeing the fourteen volumes of the Metarch Series, Bill has written a number of histories of Australian meteorology, including 'A Perspective of Australian Meteorology 1939–78' (Aust. Met. Mag. 30, 1982, pp 3-17), 'Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology' (WMO Bulletin 1983, pp 309-13) and 'A Mini-History of Meteorology in Australia' (Bulletin of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, 9, 2, April 1996).

People in Bright Sparcs - Dwyer, Leonard Joseph; Ennor, Arnold Hughes; Farrands, John Laws; Gibbs, William James (Bill); Kingsland, Richard

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Gibbs, W. J. 1999 'A Very Special Family: Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1946 to 1962', Metarch Papers, No. 13 May 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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