R. H. Clarke Lecture

Reginald Harry (“Reg”) Clarke, 1914-1990, had a long and distinguished career in meteorology, at the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, and the University of Melbourne. He was Chairman of the Australian Branch of the Royal Meteorological Society (the predecessor of AMOS) 1976-80. In Reg’s memory, AMOS each year invites a distinguished speaker to present a review lecture on a topic in meteorology or an associated field, at the Annual Conference of the Society. The program committee for the annual conference selects the R. H. Clarke Lecturer each year.

Reg was born into a farming family in the mid-north of South Australia. He was awarded Arts and Science degrees by Adelaide University then taught at Quorn High School before joining the Royal Australian Air Force’s Meteorology Branch. After the end of the War, he was Officer-in-Charge of the Canberra Meteorological Office for the Bureau of Meteorology, before moving to the Bureau’s Central Office in Melbourne. Reg joined the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Physics in Aspendale in 1957. He was Officer-in-Charge of the Australian Numerical Meteorology Research Centre (ANMRC) from 1974 until his retirement in 1978. After his retirement from government service, he continued research at the University of Melbourne, for many years.

Reg undertook compressive and innovative studies of many weather phenomena including sea breezes, summer cool changes, cold fronts, and roll clouds such as the Morning Glory of the Gulf of Carpentaria. His experience as an operational meteorologist, along with his deep physical understanding and research experience, allowed him to combine physical understanding, synoptic analysis, and field experimentation to improve the understanding of these phenomena. He mounted two field experiments that are regarded as amongst the best ever sources of data on the boundary layer, Wangara in 1967 and Koorin in 1974. He spent some of 1965 and 1966 at the USA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory where he undertook work with primitive equation models, especially for the southern hemisphere.

More details of Reg’s many contributions to Australian meteorology are available in an obituary published in the Australian Meteorological Magazine, volume 38, 1990, pages 223-225. A list of his publications was compiled by Dr Dale Hess and published in the Australian Meteorological Magazine, volume 29, 1991, pages 147-8. A special issue (volume 41) of the Australian Meteorological Magazine was published in 1992 in honour of Reg’s life and work. Included in that special issue is an article by Professor Bruce Morton entitled “Reg Clarke: life and work”.