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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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In his reminiscences (Metarch Papers No 8, February 1996) Allan Cornish describes how early in the war Bill Boswell of the PMG's Research Laboratories was keen to employ direction finding radio apparatus to locate lightning. Older readers will recall that in the early days of radio, lightning caused static, the noise of which interfered with reception of their favourite radio programs.

Weather News No 3 of October 1956 records that the Bureau had acquired equipment for three atmospheric direction finding (sferics) stations. The equipment was relatively simple, consisting of two crossed loop aerials tuned to 10 kc/s (the radio frequency of the signal produced by a lightning discharge) which with suitable circuitry could provide the bearing of the lightning discharge. Similar equipment had been used on ships and aerodromes to obtaining bearings of radio signals from shore stations or from aircraft. I believe a similar locally built sferics system had been tested during the war by Boswell and Cornish.

The sferics network commenced operation in May 1957 with stations at Eagle Farm, Charleville and Garbutt. A fourth station was established in Cloncurry in April 1959. An additional southern network was established in April 1960, originally with stations at Laverton (Melbourne) and Wilkes (Antarctica), a third station being established at Guildford (Perth) in August 1960. This southern network had the advantage of three widely-spaced stations which assisted accuracy.

The sferics system was an interesting experiment in supplementing the Bureau's overall observations system. It could not be considered as a solution to the problem of routine synoptic analysis as the detection of lightning depended on the occurrence of well-developed thunderstorms, which are daily occurrences in northern Australia and New Guinea at certain times of the year but are relatively rare over the southern coastline of Australia and the Southern Ocean. In certain parts of Australia a thunderstorm is not always accompanied by heavy rain. It is a sign of convective turbulence. Some thunderstorms accompany fronts, others do not.

In summary it may be said that the sferics system was successful in detecting thunderstorms, often in areas of deficient observations. As thunderstorms occur less frequently in higher latitudes there were less occurrences detected in those regions. Sferics were useful for the forecaster, and in alerting electricity authorities of the possibility of power failures. The advent of the meteorological satellite largely replaced the need for sferics observations.

People in Bright Sparcs - Cornish, Allan William; 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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