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Bureau of Meteorology

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Bureau of Meteorology
Agency overview
Formed1 January 1908; 116 years ago (1908-01-01)
JurisdictionGovernment of Australia
Annual budgetA$420.6 million total, $335.2 million of that coming from the Government, and $85.4 million from sales of goods and rendering of services. (2022–23)[2]
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Andrew Johnson, Director of Meteorology
Parent agencyDepartment of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Australia)

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM or BoM) is an executive agency of the Australian Government responsible for providing weather services to Australia and surrounding areas. It was established in 1906 under the Meteorology Act, and brought together the state meteorological services that existed before then.[3] The states officially transferred their weather recording responsibilities to the Bureau of Meteorology on 1 January 1908.[4][5]


The Bureau of Meteorology was established on 1 January 1908 following the passage of the Meteorology Act 1906.[6] Prior to Federation in 1901, each colony had had its own meteorological service, with all but two colonies also having a subsection devoted to astronomy. In August 1905, federal home affairs minister Littleton Groom surveyed state governments for their willingness to cede control, finding South Australia and Victoria unwilling. However, at a ministerial conference in April 1906, the state governments agreed to transfer responsibility for meteorology and astronomy to the federal government. Groom rejected a takeover of astronomy due to its connection to universities, which relied on state legislation for their authority.[7]

Henry Ambrose Hunt was appointed as the first Commonwealth Meteorologist in November 1906. Initially, the Bureau had few staff and issued a single daily forecast for each state, transmitted by Morse code to country areas. Radio forecasts were introduced in 1924. The Bureau received additional funding from the late 1930s, in the lead-up to World War II, and it was incorporated into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from 1941 until after the conclusion of the war. It became an inaugural member of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1950. Televised weather forecasts were introduced in 1956.[8]

The 1906 act governing the Bureau was repealed and replaced by the Meteorology Act 1955, which brought its functions in line with the expectations of the WMO and allowed for a significant reorganisation of its structure. At this time, the Bureau came under the Department of the Interior. In 1957, partly as a response to the 1955 Hunter Valley floods, the Bureau added a hydrometeorological service.[9] In 1964, the federal government agreed to establish one of the three World Meteorological Centres in Melbourne, as part of the WMO's World Weather Watch scheme.[10]

In October 2022, the Bureau requested media organisations and outlets to update their style guides so that the agency was to be referred to as the “Bureau of Meteorology” in the first instance and "the Bureau" in subsequent professional references, in line with other governmental agencies and the Meteorology Act 1955. [11] The decision was reversed that week.[12] During this period, the media cycle on this story led to death threats sent from the public to the organisation and were received by general staff, scientists, meteorologists, and other specialists within the organisation, those of which had no input or were a part of the request. Some Bureau employees at the time requested not to have their name used during live media crosses as a safety precaution.[13] The style guide change requested was directed at professional news organisations and media outlets, but was misconstrued and the general public, who colloquially refer to the Bureau as “the BOM”, believed it was referring to them.[11]

Services and structure[edit]

Berrimah radar

The Bureau of Meteorology is the main provider of weather forecasts, warnings and observations to the Australian public.

The Bureau's head office is in Melbourne Docklands, which includes the Bureau's Research Centre, the Bureau National Operations Centre, the National Climate Centre, the Victorian Regional Forecasting Centre as well as the Hydrology and Satellite sections.[14]

Regional offices are located in each state and territory capital. Each regional office includes a regional forecasting centre (RFC) and a flood warning centre. The Adelaide office incorporates the National Tidal Centre, while the Darwin office the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre and Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (Analysis). The Perth, Darwin and Brisbane offices also housed Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres which were ultimately unified into one since the 2020–21 cyclone season.

Darwin Airport office

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology issues tropical cyclone advisories[15] and developed the Standard Emergency Warning Signal used for warnings. The Bureau is responsible for tropical cyclone naming for storms in waters surrounding Australia. Three lists of names used to be maintained, one for each of the western, northern and eastern Australian regions.[16] However, as of the start of the 2008–09 Tropical Cyclone Year these lists have been rolled into one main national list of tropical cyclone names.[16]

The regional offices are supported by the Bureau National Operations Centre (BNOC) which is also located at the head office in Melbourne Docklands. [17]

The Bureau maintains a network of field offices across the continent, on neighbouring islands and in Antarctica. There is also a network of some 500 paid co-operative observers and approximately 6,000 voluntary rainfall observers.[citation needed]


The following people have been directors of the Bureau of Meteorology:

Director Term
Henry Ambrose Hunt 1908–31
William S Watt 1931–40
H. Norman Warren 1940–50
Edward W Timcke 1950–55
Leonard J Dwyer 1955–62
William J Gibbs 1962–78
John Zillman 1978–2003
Geoff Love 2003–08
Neville Smith (Acting Director) 2008–09
Greg Ayers 2009–12[18]
Rob Vertessy 2012–16[19]
Andrew Johnson 6 September 2016 – present[20]

High performance computing[edit]

On the 30th June 2016, a new Cray XC40 supercomputer was put into service by the Bureau. It was named "Australis" and it was expected to be 16 times faster than the existing High Performance Computer (HPC) with a total of 1.6 petaflops of computational power,[21] providing the operational computing capability for weather, climate, ocean and wave numerical prediction and simulation. The Bureau performs Numerical weather prediction with the Unified Model software. The Bureau decommissioned their old Oracle HPC system in October 2016. In 2020, the Bureau decommissioned the central computing facility, which had previously been relocated to the Melbourne office in 2004, and was first commissioned in 1974. In April 2020, the Bureau received Australis II, a 4.0 petaflop Cray XC50 and CS500 system. 2 years later, the Bureau bought a disaster recovery (DR) HPC system to improve the resilience of the supercomputer used to predict Australia’s weather events. Hewlett Packard Enterprise will supply the DR HPC system under a three-year contract worth $49.3 million, supplementing the existing Australis II.[22][needs update]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About the Bureau". bom.gov.au. Archived from the original on 20 March 2021. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Portfolio budget statements 2022-23 budget related paper no. 1.3" (PDF). Transparency.gov.au. Australian Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2023. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Meteorology in the 20th Century". Federation and Meteorology. University of Melbourne: Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre. August 2001. p. 1600. Archived from the original on 14 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  4. ^ "BOM celebrates 100 years". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 31 December 2007. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2008.
  5. ^ "Collections in Perth: 20. Meteorology". National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
  6. ^ "A short history of the Bureau of Meteorology". Bureau of Meteorology. 24 August 2011. Archived from the original on 24 July 2021. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  7. ^ Carment, David (1975). Australian liberal: a political biography of Sir Littleton Groom, 1867-1936 (PDF) (PhD thesis). Australian National University. pp. 54–55. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 July 2021. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  8. ^ "Meteorology in Australia". Year Book Australia, 1988. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 24 July 2021. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  9. ^ "The Meteorology Act 1955". Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre. 2001. Archived from the original on 24 July 2021. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  10. ^ "World Meteorological Centre, Melbourne". Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre. 2001. Archived from the original on 24 July 2021. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Bureau of Meteorology asks to stop being called 'BOM'". ABC News. 18 October 2022. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  12. ^ "'The Bureau of Management': Former staff say cultural issues behind Bureau of Meteorology's 'nonsense' rebrand". ABC News. 20 October 2022. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  13. ^ "BOM boss apologises for confusion surrounding its 'brand refresh'". ABC News. 28 October 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  14. ^ "Bureau of Meteorology Head Office 700 Collins Street". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 11 April 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
  15. ^ Tropical Cyclone Advices Archived 11 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Bureau of Meteorology, 2009
  16. ^ a b "Tropical Cyclone Names". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 11 April 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  17. ^ "Bureau of Meteorology Head Office 700 Collins Street". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 11 April 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
  18. ^ "Government thanks outgoing Bureau of Meteorology director, Dr Greg Ayers". Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. 20 February 2012. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  19. ^ "'Perilous': Bureau of Meteorology boss Rob Vertessy exits with climate warning". The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 April 2016. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Dr Andrew Johnson appointed as Director of Meteorology". Bureau of Meteorology. 5 September 2016. Archived from the original on 23 September 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  21. ^ Hendry, Justin. "BOM buys $49m disaster recovery HPC system from HPE". iTnews. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  22. ^ Hendry, Justin. "Bureau of Meteorology shuts oldest data centre after 46 years". iTnews. Retrieved 21 April 2023.

External links[edit]