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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

Chapter 4: A Year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Melbourne to Cambridge, Massachusetts
Long-range Forecasting
Synoptic Meteorology
Dynamic Meteorology I, II, III
Dynamic Meteorology IV
Physical Meteorology
Audrey Joins Me in Boston
Was it Worthwhile?

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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Dynamic Meteorology IV

Heinz Lettau's lectures on Dynamic Meteorology IV began with the distribution of a four-page diagram outlining the various scales of motion in the atmosphere. I was already well acquainted with some scales of motion but had very little knowledge of many in the diagram. The course was somewhat intimidating but I resolved to absorb as much as my background knowledge would permit.

I found it somewhat surprising that Lettau was a modest lecturer, in view of his distinguished reputation as a mathematician and researcher. His patient manner showed respect for his students, whom he obviously wished to be well informed on the subject of turbulence. He gave us assignments from time to time and I remember my dismay when one assignment asked us for comments on the relevance of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Knowing absolutely nothing of that principle I hastily repaired to the MIT library so I could disguise that lack of knowledge.

Lettau began his first lecture by explaining that the space and time scales of turbulence had a very wide range. He also gave examples of expert definitions given at a conference on turbulence at MIT earlier in 1951 which demonstrated that it was extremely difficult to describe the nature of turbulence with words. In later years I was to read a comment by Stephen Schneider recounting that at a seminar on climate the participants decided to begin by spending a few seconds agreeing on a definition of climate. After more than an hour of spirited discussion participants agreed that it would probably be best defined as the synthesis of weather.

When I was appointed Director of Meteorology in 1962 I determined to maintain an active scientific interest in at least one branch of meteorology and chose the subjects of climate, rainfall and drought. During the course of this work I suggested a definition of climate (Gibbs, 1987), a matter I believe to be of considerable importance. How can we study climate change unless we agree on what we mean by climate?

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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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