FEDERATION AND METEOROLOGYPhoto - Woman with balloon
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  A national approach

Meteorology is one of the few areas of science mentioned in the Australian constitution. The nation's founders believed it was important for the Commonwealth to have the power to keep watch on the weather.

Prior to Federation, the colonies maintained separate meteorological services, often in conjunction with astronomical observatories. But, seeking to improve their understanding of climatic conditions across the continent, meteorological workers instituted a system of intercolonial cooperation. Political boundaries meant little to the weather.

A national approach promised further efficiencies. In 1906 the government used its constitutional authority to establish a federal meteorological service, and began taking over state facilities. H.A. Hunt was appointed Commonwealth Meteorologist the following year, and in 1908 the Bureau of Meteorology finally commenced its operations.


  Photo of H.A. Hunt
H.A. Hunt, first Commonwealth Meteorologist (see 'Notes Prepared by John Hogan'

'Why, if they did but know it, the Australasian people hold a position absolutely unique for the furtherance of meteorological research and the establishment of a first-class federal weather service.' - Clement Wragge, 1902.

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Background image: The first weather map issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, Age, 2 January 1902.
Design & content: Tim Sherratt (tim@discontents.com.au)

Published by the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, August 2001