The Weather Book: A Manual of Practical Meteorology

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Robert Fitzroy (1805-65) is best remembered as the commander of HMS Beagle who took on Charles Darwin as the Ship's naturalist, but his most important scientific contribution was probably the establishment of the Meteorological Office in 1854. Convinced that falling barometric pressure was an indicator of storms, he had barometers set up at ports around the coast, so that boats would be aware of impending bad weather, and later had reports telegraphed to his office in London for collation; he invented the term 'forecasting the weather'. This work, published in 1863, gives an account of observations by himself and others, experiments, and proposals for future developments. Almost unbelievably, the Government declared that Fitzroy was exceeding his remit: he was instructed to restrict himself to collecting data, and it is believed that the depression he suffered at this setback was one of the factors which led to his suicide in 1865.