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Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Meteorology

Prior to Federation, meteorological observations were recorded on behalf of the colony of South Australia by the Adelaide Observatory, which was built in 1856. The first Government Astronomer and Meteorologist was Sir Charles Todd, who had been appointed in 1855.

In 1856 Todd submitted a meteorological plan that depended on a network of observation stations, which were required to report daily to the observatory via the telegraph system. Growth was slow initially, and it was not until 1860 that the observatory was ready with the necessary instruments and 14 selected stations.

As the telegraph system expanded so did the meteorological stations, with a greater impetus 10 years later when post offices came under Todd's control. By 1905 there were 510 rainfall stations in South Australia and the Northern Territory, 22 of which were equipped for all meteorological observations.

The Meteorology Act 1906 established the position of Commonwealth Meteorologist. He was supported by the Meteorological Branch (or Bureau). State offices of the branch were established in 1908. The Adelaide Observatory continued to be responsible for astronomical work and records in the region after the transfer of meteorological services to the Commonwealth.

The Meteorology Act 1955 established the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. The functions of the bureau include taking and recording meteorological and other related observations; forecasting weather and the state of the atmosphere; issuing warnings of gales, storms and other weather conditions likely to endanger life or property, including those likely to give rise to floods or bush fires; and supplying meteorological information.

Some colonial meteorological records are held in the Archives' Adelaide Office. Most records about meteorology in South Australia are held in Melbourne, where the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology Head Office is located. Records held by the Archives relating to meteorology in South Australia include rainfall registers, station journals, sea temperature records, and files about noteworthy weather events.

Selected series relating to meteorology in South Australia
Sydney
Recorded by: Adelaide Observatory/Meteorological Branch/Bureau of Meteorology, Regional Office, South Australia
Rainfall observations, 1839–1999 D5545
Melbourne
Recorded by: Adelaide Observatory/Meteorological Branch/Bureau of Meteorology, Regional Office, South Australia
Adelaide journals, 1856–1966 AP810/57
Barometer reading register, South Australia and Northern Territory, 1857–1923 AP879/7
Temperature reading register, South Australia and Northern Territory, 1857–1913 AP879/6
Yearly rainfall – bulletin stations, 1857–1920 AP810/61
Melbourne
Recorded by: Adelaide Observatory/Meteorological Branch/Bureau of Meteorology, Regional Office, South Australia
Thermograph, thermometer, calibration, certificates, Adelaide, 1858 AP564/14
Station journals, 1858–1957 D4392
Register of monthly rain returns, 1888–1902 D4545
Report sheets for daily rainfall in South Australia, 1891– D2766
Weekly resumes and notes on the weather over Australasia taken from the daily weather charts, 1893–1905 AP810/48
Temperature of the sea at Port Adelaide, 1895–1910 AP879/12
Sunshine recorder cards, 1910– D2567
South Australian daily weather bulletins and rain lists, 1936– D2717
Monthly register of meteorological observations, 1941– D2210
Monthly record of upper wind observations, 1943– D2207
Register of aerodrome weather reports, 1948– D3157
Correspondence files relating to United Kingdom atomic weapons tests, 1956–57 D3684
Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin
Recorded by: Adelaide Observatory/Meteorological Branch/Bureau of Meteorology, Regional Office, South Australia
Field books of meteorological observations, 1858– D2613
Adelaide
Recorded by: Adelaide Observatory/Meteorological Branch/Bureau of Meteorology, Regional Office, South Australia
Rainfall registers, South Australia and Northern Territory (Adelaide Observatory rain register South Australia volume I), 1839–79 AP879/2
Register of the rain gauge kept in Grote Street Adelaide by Sir George Strickland Kingston, 1839–74 AP810/27
Register of the weather with the rise and fall of the thermometer and barometer, 1843–56 AP810/58
Meteorological registers/returns, 1856 D4750
Meteorological observations made at the Adelaide Observatory, 1858–67 AP810/23
Country rainfall and wheat yield, 1860–1905 AP810/45
Mt Barker meteorological journals, 1861–85 AP879/11
Temperature of the sea at Port Adelaide, 1869–94 AP810/24
Volumes of monthly rainfall and weather characteristics of South Australia, 1887–93 D4497
Noteworthy meteorological events, 1857–1956 AP810/51
Selected items relating to meteorology in South Australia
Canberra
Department of Army – flood relief – Murray River, South Australia, 1956 A663, O156/1/292A
Photograph of flood water in street near Belalie Hotel, Jamestown, South Australia, 1962 A1200, L42247
Adelaide
Abstract of meteorological observations at Government Offices, Victoria Square, 1885 D4750, 27
A telegraph station – water tank blown over during storm and damaged also chimney needs extension, 1867 D4450, 1867/235A
Flood warning telephone calls, 1924 D959, IA1924/1542
River Murray floods – mail service – emergency arrangements, 1956 D961, C1956/386
Long Range Weapons Project, Woomera South Australia – storm damage, 1956 D156, 1959/662

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