Global Cooperation: Madison, Melbourne and Mateship in Meteorology (Invited Presentation)

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Thursday, 6 February 2014: 4:30 PM
Room C112 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
John Zillman, Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Vic., Australia; and W. Downey

Meteorology has a well-earned reputation as a model of international cooperation in the United Nations System. While the foundations for global cooperation in meteorology were laid in the 19th Century, the enormous progress in understanding of atmospheric processes in the second half of the 20th Century owes much to the personal friendship and trust among the World War II and post-World War II generation of meteorologists and their shared commitment to the development and application of atmospheric science for the common good. The experience of the International Geophysical year (IGY) 1957-58, recognition of the potential of weather satellites for Southern Hemisphere synoptic analysis and shared interests in Antarctic weather and climate established the strong 1960s links between the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the University and Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne which drew several young Australian meteorologists, the authors included, into the Wisconsin orbit and helped establish the global perspective and life-long friendships that made national and international meteorology so professionally satisfying for many of the now-retired and soon-to-retire generation of Southern Hemisphere meteorologists. The 1960s witnessed the birth of the World Weather Watch as one of the most unlikely, but ultimately most globally beneficial, products of the early stages of the Cold War and a testimony of the power of personal and professional friendship among meteorologists from different political systems and different parts of the world. The 1970s and 1980s were a period of enormous excitement and achievement as the observing capabilities of polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites, coupled with new insights into the nature and mechanisms of the general circulation and a then highly supportive international policy environment, delivered the hugely successful Global Weather Experiment of 1979, the integrated re-design of the World Weather Watch and the implementation of the World Climate Programme. This presentation will recall some of the early meteorological links between Madison and Melbourne, coloured inevitably by the authors' experience as students of Professor Don Johnson in Madison in the early 1970s, Don's subsequent visits to the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne and the wide-ranging north-south collaboration that developed over the years between former Johnson students and colleagues of that era. It will take stock of 30 years of remarkable progress in international cooperation in meteorology including the World Weather Watch (WWW), the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP), the World Climate Programme (WCP), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). It will then reflect briefly on the impact of these international developments, and especially the Madison effect, on the national policy framework and operation of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. It will conclude that ‘mateship' (according to Wikipedia, an Australian cultural idiom that embodies equality, loyalty and friendship) and its various international equivalents have been the powerful binding force that has enabled meteorologists from every political system and every corner of the globe to work together in a spirit of international cooperation which is matched by few, if any, other fields of science or human endeavour.