The Bureau of Meteorology 1939 – 2003



This book tells the inside story of an Australian scientific icon. Weather and climate affect
everyone and we have all come to depend, in one way or another, on the scientific advice
and the national forecasting and warning services provided by the Commonwealth Bureau
of Meteorology.

From its vital role in the Allied Victory in the Pacific in World War II to its remarkable
three-way Cold War partnership with the United States and the Soviet Union in building
the international World Weather Watch in the 1960s and 70s , the Bureau has occupied
a unique position on the Australian scientific service landscape for more than a century.

Written by its longest-serving Director to complement the Bureau’s official 2008 centenary
history, this volume provides a behind-the-scenes account of the 40-year span (1962- 2003)
of his and his predecessor’s custodianship of the organisation and a host of meteorological
war stories and images from the full 65 years (1939-2003) of their combined Bureau careers.

It records some of Australia’s great weather forecasting dramas of the past 100 years and the
Bureau’s political and budget battles to ensure its ability to discharge its statutory obligations
for protection of the Australian community from the forces of nature. It also recalls the
remarkable scientific and technological progress in weather and climate forecasting made
possible by international atmospheric research and the satellite and computer revolutions
of the 20th century. And it explains the basis for Australia’s widely recognised international
leadership in the development of meteorological cooperation as a global public good.

As one of its 1950s recruits who joined the Bureau for life, the author was well-placed
to observe and honour the successive generations of weather observers, meteorologists,
engineers and other specialists who made up the ‘very special family’ that guided Australian
meteorology from the start of World War II to the closing decades of the 20th century. His
recollections provide a unique insight into the science, people and politics that designed
and built the Bureau of Meteorology for the 21st century.

They tell an inspiring story of sta commitment and public service that deserves to be