The Habsburg Monarchy was no doubt one of the major global players of its time and Emperor Franz Joseph I saw the need to establish all sorts of institutions to administer the huge territory under his rule.
A major strategic point was to understand the geomagnetic landscape of the empire. Back in the 19th Century, imperial ships were sailing the oceans to places as far away as Japan, and the compass had been a crucial tool for survival. Understanding Earth’s magnetism was therefore of such great importance, that in 1851, Franz Joseph I approved the foundation of the “Central Agency for Meteorological and Magnetic Observation” – the institution which generates, to this day, our daily weather forecasts. After the agency became the official service provider for all seismic services in Austria in 1904, its name was changed to “Central Agency for Meteorology and Geodynamics”, with the German acronym ZAMG. Its headquarters are located on a hill in the 19th district of Vienna, overlooking the whole city and far beyond. The white radar dome protudes proudly from the top of the hill and has become a symbol of weather forecast for the Viennese people.
In 1851 the Viennese newspaper “Wiener Zeitung” announced the Imperial Order to establish the
K.K. Central Agency of Meteorology and Earth Magnetism.
View from the tower.
Today the air is clear and the view from the top of the tower is just fantastic.
Due to its long history starting in 1851, the ZAMG institute possesses a large number of historical instruments as well as a comprehensive library with rare books, enlightening the history of meteorology. One such historical instrument I found attached to the tower of the main building was a glass sphere that immediately aroused my interest: A Sunlight Recorder, Campbell-Stokes Recorder or simply a Stokes Sphere ☀️, in German called Sonnenscheinautograph or Heliograph.
“As sunlight passes through the sphere, it becomes focused and – with the rotation of the Earth – a “line” burns through the piece of treated paper which is positioned beneath the quartz glass sphere. It is one of the oldest methods for recording periods of sunlight throughout the day, and the device is relatively unchanged since it was invented in 1853. The resulting burn line in the paper indicates periods of sunshine. Breaks in the line (no burn), indicate periods of cloud cover (during daylight hours)”.*)
National Science Night is an annual event and one of the highlights for everyone here at ZAMG is the release of a meteorological balloon.
Let’s join this scene tonight.
1) Inflating the balloon with helium:
– sometimes we are rewarded with magical moments like this:
Releasing the balloon: 気象観測気球を放す瞬間。
It`s National Science Night, and Kids are learning about our Weather and Climate:
Computer screens in today`s state-of-the-art weather monitoring center at the ZAMG headquarters:
“We have the official task of issuing weather alerts and informing the public in Austria and the World, so recently we have added this professional radio studio”, explains Rainer Kaltenberger, who works in the ZAMG Climate Section:
However, international communication with the institute dates back almost to its founding days. The K.K. Central Agency of Meteorology and Earth Magnetism organized the First International Meteorology Congress in 1873 in Vienna.
Two years later, in 1875, Japan started with its first regular meteorological observations. European experts from Great Britain were called upon to bring observation instruments to Japan and to teach their Japanese colleagues on how to use them. They ralized quickly, that observation instruments for earthquakes was exactly what Japan needed most.
The first Meteorological Observatory in Japan was located around today’s Hotel Okura in Akasaka, central Tokyo.
(Photo copyright: Japan Meteorological Agency)
Nearly 50 years later, in 1923, the great Kanto earthquake destroyed much of Japan’s capital, Tokyo. Here at the ZAMG, a special showcase is dedicated to the Agency’s relationship with Japan:
For example, the original seismogram by the Meteorological Agency in Vienna that registered the 1923 Kanto earthquake, is displayed.
Another focus is set on the earthquake of Fukushima on March 11, 2011,
and photos from Japan are on display here at the ZAMG agency.
You can also find a copy of the alert given here in Vienna after the earthquake and the subsequent nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan. Here at the ZAMG, the world’s first simulation was created on how the nuclear fallout would spread and was published on March 13th and 14th. All calculations and estimations were very close to the real situation.
AUREA.link 2018 All rights reserved.
Austrian National Library, ANNO, 17.8.1951, Wiener Zeitung
ZAMG Official Webpage, www.zamg.ac.at
Official Japanese Webpage of Japan Meteorological Agency JMA.go.jp (History)