Working with Weather: Atmospheric Resources, Climate Variability and the Rise of Industrial Meteorology, 1950 – 2010


  • Vladimir Janković University of Manchester


This paper provides an account of key institutional, methodological and theoretical developments informing the growth of applied and industrial meteorology during the last fifty years. While the increasing importance and use of meteorological expertise in businesses has been subject of recent scholarship, this paper considers the historical factors behind these developments. More specifically, I argue that the so-called ‘golden age’ of applied and industrial meteorology between 1980 and present resulted from a conjuncture of at least four main sets of scientific, environmental and socioeconomic processes, namely: (1) a strengthening policy role of the ‘atmospheric resource’ agenda in the geographic and atmospheric sciences in the industrialized world during the 1960s, (2) the growing need to assess (and thus justify) the monetary value of meteorological information in the context of investment in national meteorological services, (3) increasing losses from high-impact weather events during the 1960s, followed by major climate anomalies during the early 1970s that caused political tensions, environmental soulsearching and security crises in both the developed and developing worlds and (4) the resulting representation of The Environment as Hazard8 that ushered in the cultures of ‘climatological impact assessment.’