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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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Cloud Seeding (continued)

I gained a great deal of pleasure and scientific stimulation from Eric Kraus. Like Uwe Radok. Bill Swinbank and Gerry O'Mahony he was fiercely independent. I admired Eric's courage in refusing to kowtow to the occasional bureaucratic or scientific mandarin in Canberra who did not hesitate to use his considerable influence in the halls of power to make things difficult for any who displeased him. Luckily the majority of those at the top of the political and scientific trees in Canberra were reasonable people for whom it was a pleasure to work.

Allan Rainbird reports that when he was a forecaster in Sydney prior to moving to the Hydrometeorological Section in Melbourne he spent two weeks in the New England region of NSW establishing a network of rain gauges for the CSIRO cloud seeding group. He states that there was no further contact from the group but he understands that it was concluded that if seeding had any effect it decreased rainfall.

Allan found his attachment to the SMHEA from September 1960 to August 1961 a very interesting and rewarding experience. He was located in the Field Investigation Division headed by Darcy Walsh and gained a great deal from his association with engineers in the Division who had worked with the US Bureau of Reclamation.

The CSIRO cloud seeding exercise had concluded by the time Allan arrived in Cooma but a debate still raged between CSIRO and the SMHEA on interpretation of the results. It was agreed to employ a US expert (Roscoe Braham) to assess results. Braham discovered that the person with the task of drawing isopleths of rainfall over the target and control areas knew the result of the random decision on whether the seeding should take place. Braham immediately abandoned his investigation. Jack Wiesner (formerly a member of the staff of the Bureau's Sydney Divisional Office) was engaged as a consultant to draw the isopleths. After all this effort the evaluation of the effect of cloud seeding was inconclusive although the CSIRO considered that seeding had been successful.

The investigation of the results of CSIRO cloud seeding was one of the many tasks Len Dwyer gave Gerry O'Mahony after his return from ANU. Gerry was extremely doubtful about the validity of the design of experiments and the statistical techniques employed in assessing success. He was acquainted with Alf Cornish, Head of CSIRO Statistical Division, who shared Gerry's scepticism about design and statistical techniques.

I recall an occasion in the late 1950s or early 1960s when people from the Bureau and CSIRO met in Len Dwyer's office to discuss cloud seeding. CSIRO was represented by Fred White, Taffy Bowen and Pat Smith, the Bureau by Len Dwyer, Gerry O'Mahony and myself. The discussion became somewhat tense when in reply to a CSIRO statement Gerry said "anyone who believes that should see a psychiatrist", to which Taffy replied "hands up those who want to see a psychiatrist". Only Taffy's and Pat Smith's hands were raised. The dispute with CSIRO on cloud seeding continued until the project was abandoned by CSIRO in 1980.

Gerry has made available a clipping from the Melbourne newspaper Weekly Times of 6 September 1967 which reports that, at a meeting of the WRF when the debate still raged, Mr J. McCann, senior economist with the Victorian Department of Agriculture, had estimated that "$2 million had been added to value of the district's wheat crop by rainfall increases brought about by cloud seeding". The same article reports Gerry's scepticism which was based on his examination of rainfall data from the area seeded.

Gerry has told me that during the discussion following the presentation to the WRF meeting he had stated that only two conclusions could be drawn from the fact that rainfall upwind of the seeding had increased as much as rainfall in the seeded area. He went on to explain that one remote possibility was that the seeding agent had been blown in the westerly wind right round the southern hemisphere and had seeded the area upwind. An observer asked the question that Gerry had anticipated in only revealing one of his conclusions. The questioner asked what was the other possible conclusion. Gerry responded "the only other possible conclusion is that these claims are a bunch of codswallop".

People in Bright Sparcs - Bowen, Edward George (Taffy); Dwyer, Leonard Joseph; O'Mahony, Gerard (Gerry); Swinbank, William Christopher Swinbank, William Christopher; White, Frederick William George

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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

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