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The Weather Book

Date: 1863
Overall: 42 x 227 x 155 mm, 950 g
Medium: Hard back cover, Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00006770
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    Published in 1863, 'The Weather Book: A Manual of Practical Meteorology' by Admiral Robert FitzRoy includes 15 pages of illustrations and graphs of his forecast maps and cloud charts.
    SignificanceRobert FitzRoy is credited as the inventor of the weather map and forecast, and his publication 'The Weather Book: A Manual of Practical Meteorology' was a major meteorological breakthrough. His weather forecasting methods were of practical importance to all maritime industries.
    HistorySon of Lord Charles FitzRoy and Lady Frances Anne Stewart, Robert FitzRoy (1805-1865) was born on 5 July 1805. At age 13 he entered the Royal Naval College, at Portsmouth and joined the Royal Navy in 1819. In 1824 he was promoted to Lieutenant having passed his examination with 'full numbers'.

    FitzRoy's first appointment was THETIS operating on the South American Station, until August 1828 when he was appointed Flag Lieutenant to the flagship HMS GANGES. It was while serving aboard the GANGES that the commander of HMS BEAGLE, Captain Pringle Stokes died and when the vessel returned to Rio de Janeiro, FitzRoy was appointed the BEAGLE's new captain. He served in that capacity until the vessel returned to England in 1830. A year later he was appointed to command a second survey of South America aboard the BEAGLE.

    It was during the 1831-1836 BEAGLE voyage that FitzRoy was inspired to improve mariners' awareness of weather. After the loss of two crew during a storm off the coast of Patagonia in South America, FitzRoy started to investigate the connection between barometric pressure and the development of storms at sea. During the BEAGLE voyage, he was using a device he developed called a 'storm glass' - a glass filled with water and a mix of chemicals, which were affected by changes in temperature and pressure. According to FitzRoy, a clear liquid indicated clear weather, and cloudy liquid indicated thunderstorms.

    In 1841 FitzRoy was elected the Member of Parliament for Durham, but resigned his seat when he was appointed Governor of New Zealand (1843-1845). After a brief retirement, FitzRoy took charge of the first British Meteorological Office in 1854 and devoted himself to devising a practical storm warning system.

    He developed detailed interpretations of the movement of mercury in barometers, created weather forecasting maps, issued marine weather reports in newspapers and sent barometers to seaports all over Britain. With the development of the new telegraph system, FitzRoy was able to collate data from weather stations set up across Britain, and develop a weather forecasting system. These developments were seen as of life-saving importance not only to the Royal Navy. In 1860, the first weather forecast was issued in The Times newspaper.

    In 1863, FitzRoy published his groundbreaking book 'The Weather Book' which included examples of his forecast maps and cloud charts. Despite the lukewarm reception by scientists and government officials, the book was eventually heralded as one of the great meteorological publications.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: The Weather Book

    Primary title: The Weather Book: A Manual of Practical Meteorology

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