Alexander Buchan (meteorologist)

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Alexander Buchan
Dean Terrace, Edinburgh, home of Alexander Buchan

Dr Alexander Buchan LLD FRS FRSE(11 April 1829, Kinnesswood, Portmoak – 13 May 1907, Edinburgh) was a Scottish meteorologist, oceanographer and botanist, credited with establishing the weather map as the basis of modern weather forecasting.[1] He also proposed the theory of Buchan Spells.


He was born in Kinnesswood on the north side of Loch Leven, the son of Alexander Buchan, a weaver, and Margaret Day Hill.

Buchan was educated at the Free Church College in Edinburgh, and at Edinburgh University.

He was Secretary of the Scottish Meteorological Society for 47 years, from 1860 until his death, editor of the Journal of the Scottish Meteorological Society, a member of the Council of the Meteorological Office, and curator of the library of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was instrumental in establishing the Ben Nevis observatory. Buchan prepared meteorological and oceanographic reports for the Challenger Expedition.

In 1870 he was elected President of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1868 and became its Curator in 1878, serving until 1906. He was their Vice President 1906/7.

He received the Makdougall-Brisbane prize (1876) and the Gunning Victoria Jubilee prize (1893) of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was the first recipient of the Symons Gold Medal of the Royal Meteorological Society.

He died at home 2 Dean Terrace in Edinburgh on 13 May 1907.

He is buried in Warriston Cemetery on the north side of the city.[2]


  • The Atmospheric Circulation
  • Handy book of Meteorology (1867)
  • Introductory Textbook of Meteorology (1871)
  • Encyclopædia Britannica 9th edition: Atmosphere (1875)


In 1864 he married Sarah Ritchie (d.1900)