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Table of Contents

Memories of the Bureau, 1946 to 1962





Chapter 1: The Warren Years, 1946 to 1950

Chapter 2: International Meteorology

Chapter 3: The Timcke Years, 1950 to 1955
A Period of Consolidation
Aviation Services
Services for the General Public
Rockets and Atomic Weapons
Instruments and Observations
Climate and Statistics
International Activities
Central Analysis and Development
The Universities
The Meteorology Act
Achievements of the Timcke Years

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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Rockets and Atomic Weapons (continued)

Before the tests of Totem 1 and 2, Sir William Penney advised Timcke and J. E. S. Stevens, Secretary, Department of Supply, that the criteria governing the decision to explode a nuclear device were "estimated height of atomic cloud 12 000 feet, + or - 1000 feet; firing will occur only if a) mean wind from surface to any level below 10 000 feet does not lie between 330 and 130 degrees through north, b) no rain forecast nearer than 200 miles downwind".

The cloud from Totem 1 rose to a height of 15 000 feet and drifted across Australia, crossing the coast near Townsville 50 hours after the explosion. Aircraft collected samples. Totem 1 produced unacceptable levels of radiation at Wallatina and Welbourne Hill stations some 170 km from ground zero.

The cloud from Totem 2 reached 28 000 feet, being higher than expected because of condensation of entrained moisture. The wind changed from 010 degrees at 2000 feet to 270 degrees at 20 000 feet. The analysis of results of fallout measured by low flying aircraft produced uncertainty in interpretation.

The radioactive dose received by Aborigines was unknown. 'Black mist' passing over Wallatina and Welbourne Hill stations could have been radioactive and could have caused temporary illness.

The above remarks are excerpts from the report of the Royal Commission. They produce a feeling that the Hurricane and Totem tests were poorly planned and executed. Apparently Prime Minister R. G. Menzies had raised questions regarding risks of deleterious effects on the Australian population with Penney in January 1952.

Although I have no knowledge of discussions which took place with E. W. Timcke I feel that he would not have been informed when the tests were first proposed. Tom Hall, who was involved with management and budgets at the time tells of the difficulty of not being able to discuss financing of Bureau participation because of security aspects.

People in Bright Sparcs - Ashton, Henry Tamblyn (Harry); Hall, Thomas Taylor (Tom); Timcke, Edward Waldemar

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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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