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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

Chapter 5: The Dwyer Years, 1955 to 1962
Leonard Joseph Dwyer—A Complex Character
Reorganising the Bureau
Public Weather Services
Forecasts for the General Public
Importance of Radio Stations
The Advent of Television
Automatic Telephone Forecast Service
Wording and Verification of Forecasts
Services for Aviation
Atomic Weapons Tests
Atomic Weapons Tests—Mosaic G1 and G2
Atomic Weapons Tests—Buffalo 1, 2, 3 and 4
Atomic Weapons Tests—Operations Antler, 2 and 3
Atomic Weapons Tests—Minor Trials
Instruments and Observations
Radar/Radio Winds and Radar Weather Watch
Automatic Weather Stations
Meteorological Satellites
Tropical Cyclones
Bureau Conference on Tropical Cyclones
International Symposium on Tropical Cyclones, Brisbane
Design of Water Storages, Etc
Flood Forecasting
Cloud Seeding
Reduction of Evaporation
Rain Seminar
Cloud Physics
Fire Weather
Research and Special Investigations
International Activities
The International Geophysical Year
The Antarctic and Southern Ocean
International Symposium on Antarctic Meteorology
International Antarctic Analysis Centre
ADP, EDP and Computers
Management Conference
Services Conference
CSIRO and the Universities
Achievements of the Dwyer Years

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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Automatic Weather Stations

One suggestion for increasing observational networks over the Southern and Indian Oceans was placing AWS on remote uninhabited islands and the Antarctic continent. When R. G. Casey (later Lord Casey and Governor-General of Australia) was the Minister for External Affairs, he had the responsibility for the ANARE which established stations on Heard and Macquarie Islands and later on the Antarctic continent. Casey and Len Dwyer took a particular interest in the possibility of using AWS in the Antarctic and Bill Brann was given the task of investigating that possibility.

The first issue of Weather News in August 1956 records the result of Bill Brann's efforts. It reports that the Bureau had placed an order with a French company for an AWS to be built to Bureau specifications for meteorological observing equipment, an electricity supply from a wind-generator charging a bank of batteries, and a wireless transmitter. The system was required to activate automatically to make and transmit observations on a regular basis. The specifications included a requirement for the equipment to operate unattended for one year, to withstand winds of 150 mph (240 kmph) and temperatures to -50C.

By March 1957 the equipment had arrived in Australia and had been installed and tested at Port Phillip Heads, wireless messages having been successfully received by the DCA communications centre at Essendon Airport.

On 11 January 1958 the station was established on Lewis Islet, Davis Bay, Antarctica (66S, 133E). First reports from the station were received at Macquarie Island on 24 January and subsequent reports indicated that the equipment had withstood winds of 90 mph (145 kmph).

When an ANARE party visited the island in early 1959 it was found that strong winds had collapsed two of the aerial towers, although the wind generator had kept the batteries charged and the clock working. The towers were replaced and transmissions resumed, being picked up four times daily at Mawson. However it became obvious that the equipment was not robust enough to withstand the fierce blizzards of Antarctica when transmissions again ceased after a few months.

The work of Bill Brann and his engineers in procuring, testing and installing the equipment was magnificent and the experience gained with AWS at Lewis and Chick islands in the Antarctic was used to design, procure, test and install an AWS on Ashmore Island, in the Timor Sea, which operated successfully not long after the death of Len Dwyer in 1962.

The possibility of using moored ocean buoys containing AWS was also examined but it was concluded that the great expense of purchasing, mooring and servicing buoys which might be expected to perform reliably for long periods in the Southern Ocean was unlikely to be justified. Technology had not reached the stage where it was possible to deploy drifting buoys, the data from which could be collected via orbiting communication satellites. The Bureau was to acquire and deploy such drifting buoys some decades later.

People in Bright Sparcs - Brann, Harold Walter Allen Neale (Bill); Casey, Richard Gardiner; Dwyer, Leonard Joseph

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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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