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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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Design of Water Storages, Etc (continued)

An interesting aspect of this question is the human frailty in anticipating the occurrence of disaster, a subject previously discussed with reference to tropical cyclones. After a period of some years during which a particular type of disaster has not occurred the human mind appears to dismiss the possibility of the disaster occurring again. Politicians and senior bureaucrats are usually well aware of the nature of the disaster and the need for precautionary action but other more-pressing matters generally force them to put the disaster-prevention action on the back-burner.

There was considerable discussion in the Research Division of the best method of providing the information required. Statistics Section under J. V. Maher had a mass of daily rainfall data from some thousands of voluntary rainfall observers, some more frequent observations from Bureau offices and part-time observers and some pluviograph instruments which provided graphs of rainfall occurrence. The problem was that much of these data were not recorded on punch-cards at that stage and it was some years before all of the data were rendered into computer compatible form.

It was thought that if this could be achieved a statistical analysis could provide the answer. However some of the analysis required rainfall data of shorter duration than 24 hours and some other analysis required a network of observations denser than that available.

Another difficulty arose with the requirement for a statement of maximum possible rainfall. Even with an ideally dense network of hourly or three-hourly observations a data set extending for some hundred or more years would be required to obtain a sufficient number of rare events to make a reliable statistical estimate of the maximum possible rainfall. Having recently completed his year with Professor PAP Moran at the ANU Gerry was acutely aware of this but other 'statisticians' in the CSIRO and State and Commonwealth organisations could not be persuaded that a method of estimating maximum possible rainfall other than conventional statistical analysis was required. At this stage I must point out that the CSIRO had a highly efficient Statistical Division but some amateur statisticians preferred to ignore their advice. We shall encounter this phenomenon of human frailty under the heading of cloud seeding.

The alternative method of estimating maximum possible rainfall was by no means elegant but in my view was that likely to provide the best result. I believe that Colin Hounam might have proposed the idea originally but I remember much discussion with members of the Hydrometeorological Section and others in the Research Division.

People in Bright Sparcs - Dwyer, Leonard Joseph; Maher, John Vincent (Jack)

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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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