Page 1605
Previous/Next Page
Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
Table of Contents

Australian Meteorology through the 20th Century


The Origins of Australian Meteorology

Meteorology in the 20th Century
The Forecast for the First Parliament
The Meteorology Act 1906
The Birth of the Bureau
The Early Years
Meteorological Services for Civil Aviation
Meteorology at the Universities
The RAAF Meteorological Service
CSIR Meteorological Physics
The Meteorology Act 1955
Flood Warning
Long-range Forecasting
World Meteorological Centre, Melbourne
Regional Forecasting Centres
Global Weather Experiment
Research in the Bureau
Committees of Inquiry

The Weather and Climate of the Twentieth Century

The Great Weather and Climate Events of the Twentieth Century

A Century of Progress in Science and Service


Australian Meteorological Milestones of the 20th Century



Contact us


The Bureau of Meteorology is statutorily responsible for Australian meteorological activities in Antarctica and has, from the beginning, been a key member of ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions), often co-located in the same portfolio as the Australian Antarctic Division.

As well as opening observing stations at Australia's Antarctic bases and seconding staff to the IGY (International Geophysical Year) Antarctic Weather Central at Little America, the Bureau took the lead in convening a post IGY international symposium on Antarctic meteorology and subsequently hosting the International Antarctic Analysis Centre (IAAC) and International Antarctic Meteorological Research Centre (IAMRC) in Melbourne. These were headed, over the period 1959–68, by Mr H. R. (Henry) Phillpot, who continued in Antarctic research long after his retirement in 1980 and who, in 1999, was honoured as an 'Australian Science Hero'. Two Australians, Dr N. A. Streten and Mr H. A. Hutchinson, have subsequently chaired the WMO's Working Group on Antarctic Meteorology.

World Meteorological Centre, Melbourne

Following the launch of the first artificial earth satellites and the development of plans for the World Weather Watch (WWW) drawing on the emerging capabilities of meteorological satellites and digital computers, the Australian Government offered, in November 1964, to host one of the proposed three World Meteorological Centres of the WWW. Under the guidance of Dr W. J. (Bill) Gibbs, who had been appointed Director of Meteorology in September 1962 following the death of L. J. Dwyer, and with the Bureau's installation of its first powerful computers in 1968, Australia emerged as the leading meteorological nation of the southern hemisphere and one of the key players on the global meteorological research and service scene.

Regional Forecasting Centres

One of the most significant steps in the history of the Bureau was the decision in the late 1960s to consolidate the public weather and aviation forecasting staff of the Bureau into Regional Forecasting Centres (RFCs) in the capital cities. Although it led to the need for new mechanisms for meeting the needs of many geographically dispersed and specialised user communities, the establishment of the RFCs, beginning in Tasmania in 1971, enabled the Bureau to absorb the greatly increased demands for service which flowed from its increased forecasting capabilities and the increased weather sensitivity of such important industry sectors as agriculture, coastal tourism and offshore oil and gas operations.

The Bureau's capabilities were further enhanced through the progressive installation of its Automated Regional Operations System (AROS) through the 1980s and its subsequent replacement by AIFS (Australian Integrated Forecasting System) which now provides the main specialised technological support for Australia's weather services nationwide.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - International Antarctic Analysis Centre; International Antarctic Meteorological Research Centre

People in Bright Sparcs - Dwyer, Leonard Joseph; Phillpot, Henry Robert; Streten, Neil Anthony

Previous Page Bureau of Meteorology Next Page

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher