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Meteorological Work in Australia

Meteorological Work in Australia: A Review

Map No. 1—February 18th, 1890

Map No.2—January 14th, 1891

Map No.3—March 12th, 1891

Map No. 4, February 5th. 1890, and Map No .5, May 27th, 1893

Map No. 6, June 22nd, 1893

Map No. 7, July 14th, 1893

Seasonal Forecasts




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Seasonal Forecasts

The importance to the farmer, the horticulturist, and pastoralist of knowing beforehand the probabilities of dry or wet winter seasons, and weather the rains will be early or late, or both, has naturally led to a desire for seasonal forecasts. They have them, it is said, in India; why not in Australia?

A letter from Mr. Archibald, at one time on the meteorological staff in India, published in Queensland, opened the ball. As the responsibility of issuing such forecasts would not devolve upon himself, he was, perhaps, the more fearless in suggesting what should be done by others. The Postmaster-General of Queensland, the Hon. Mr. Unmack, expressed a desire that the matter should be discussed at the recent Brisbane Postal and Telegraph Conference, and for this purpose Mr. Russell, and Mr. Ellery, and myself were invited to meet Mr. Wragge. I think we all felt that it was altogether premature to attempt anything of the kind, at all events for the present, and the suggested conference of meteorologists fell through. However desirable such seasonal forecasts may be, to be of any practical value they must be reliable, or at least so far generally verified by the results as to secure the confidence of the community. Frequent or even occasional failure would bring the system into contempt, and do far more harm than good. We have had instances of rashness in the prediction of droughts, which very seriously depreciated property, and we should move cautiously where so many interests are affected. Meteorology is still far from being an exact science, and the phenomena presented to us are so complex as to render the prediction of the weather even a few days in advance very often a matter of considerable difficulty. I have always regarded what we are doing as paving the way to further extensions of the system, with a view to the forecasts covering longer periods. This, however, can only be done by the accumulation and intelligent discussion of the necessary data, and the correlation of weather conditions over considerable areas of the earth's surface. I have already made some attempts to do this, but much remains to be done.

I may, perhaps, add that, so far as I know, India is the only country which has attempted anything like a systematic issue of seasonal forecasts. These are mainly based on the amount of snow falling during the previous winter on the Himalayas, and the general character of the weather in India during the five or six months preceding the setting in of the south-west monsoon; the chief objects of the forecasts being to give some idea of the probable rainfall during the ensuing monsoon.

People in Bright Sparcs - Ellery, Robert Lewis John; Russell, Henry Chamberlain; Todd, Charles; Wragge, Clement Lindley

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Todd, C. 1893 'Meteorological Work in Australia: A Review' Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science vol. v, 1893, pp. 246-270.

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