Saint Petersburg Conference on the Exploration of the Atmosphere

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The Saint Petersburg Conference on the Exploration of the Atmosphere was the fourth meeting of the International Commission for Scientific Aeronautics, beginning on 29 August 1904.

Membership in the Commission had increased from eight members (at founding in 1896) to about 50, representing eleven European countries plus the United States. Local arrangements were overseen by General Rykatchef, director of the Central Physics Observatory. Members discussed a plan for their countries to share the cost of printing volumes of meteorological data, currently undertaken by the meteorological service of Alsace-Lorraine. Members coordinated their next series of balloon ascents, including one planned (to occur in Spain, hosted by Pere Vives Vich)[1] for 30 August 1905, the date of a total solar eclipse. They also discussed publication a new edition of the International Cloud Atlas, the better to standardize nomenclature used for cloud reporting.[2][3]

The Pawlowsk Meteorological Observatory demonstrated its use of ballons-sondes and kites for weather observations. The Russian balloon corps—prepared for deployment to Manchuria for the Russo-Japanese War—was inspected at the Military Aeronautical Park.[2]

The Monthly Weather Review, organ of the U.S. Weather Bureau, responded to the conference with a call for new channels of research:[3]

The work of aerial exploration by means of sounding balloons and kites as well as permanent mountain stations is one that may well excite enthusiasm and emulation among the wealthy patrons of science in America. It is not necessary to leave all this work to the Carnegie Institution for Research, or to the overburdened universities, or to the regular routine of Weather Bureau methods. There is abundant room here for independent individual originality and local enterprise. The Great Plains of the Mississippi watershed offer unparalleled advantages for the highest balloon work and kite work. The Rocky Mountains on the west and the Appalachians on the east offer a host of peaks from 6000 to 15,000 feet high, some of them already crowned with hotels and dwellings where self-registering apparatus can easily be kept in operation. Similarly the numerous owners of private yachs can contribute immensely to our study of the atmosphere over the ocean, if, like Teisserenc de Bort, they will but devote their vessels, when not otherwise in use, to meteorological work on the high seas. What is especially needed is kite work and balloon work in the region of the Saragossa Sea and in sections ot and fro across the equator from tropic to tropic on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.


  1. Hildebrandt, 1908, Airships Past and Present, pp. 281–283.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Abbott Lawrence Rotch, "The Saint Petersburg Conference on the Exploration of the Atmosphere", Science, Vol. XXI, No. 534; 24 March 1905.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Scientific Aeronautics", Monthly Weather Review, pp. 322–323.

See also

Event names Saint Petersburg Conference on the Exploration of the Atmosphere; Fourth Meeting of the International Commission for Scientific Aeronautics; Quatrième conférence de la Commission Internationale par l'aérostation scientifique après l'academie impériale des sceinces de St. Pétersbourg.
Event type conference
Country RU
Location Saint Petersburg
Start date 1904-08-29 (Orthodox: 1904-08-16)
Number of days 6
Tech focus meteo, LTA, kite, instrument, military