Capsule

Edward Kidson was a New Zealand scientist who spearheaded the modernisation of Australasian meteorology by introducing Bergen School methods of synoptic analysis to the Southern Hemisphere in the 1930s.

Abstract

Edward Kidson, Director of the Meteorological Service of New Zealand from 1927 until his death in 1939, was an instrumental figure in modernising Australasian meteorology. Throughout the 1920s, Kidson promoted the methods of synoptic analysis emanating from the Bergen School of Meteorology. However, it was not until the 1930s that he began in earnest to apply these methods to weather charts for the Australasian region. This development was aided by two visits he made to Bergen and by a personal correspondence he maintained with Jacob Bjerknes during the 1930s. In 1932, Kidson presented the first Norwegian-style analysis conducted for a Southern Hemisphere region, promptly following this with a more extensive study. However, these analyses were not of a sufficient standard at that stage to be adopted in forecasting practice.

It was the fortuitous visit to New Zealand of Norwegian meteorologist Jørgen Holmboe, in 1934, that finally facilitated the transition. Holmboe was attached to the Lincoln Ellsworth Antarctic Expedition, but damage to their aircraft caused them to spend the winter of 1934 in New Zealand. Holmboe was engaged at the Meteorological Service in Wellington during this period, working with Kidson to apply Norwegian methods to the region. Kidson had hoped to further embed this practice by employing Tor Bergeron in New Zealand during 1938. Bergeron had accepted an offer from Kidson but cancelled at the last minute after contracting rheumatic fever. Nevertheless, shortly after Holmboe’s visit, daily analyses were being conducted along Norwegian lines, bringing Australasian meteorology into the 20th century.

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