Publication Details

Chen, Z., Yang, G. & Wray, R. A. L. (2014). Shiyan Tao and the history of indigenous meteorology in China. Earth Sciences History, 33 (2), 346-360.


This paper gives an account of some of the indigenous characteristics of China's atmospheric sciences. We use the contributions of Academician Shiyan Tao to demonstrate how scientific advances in an international context were adapted to the evolving field of meteorology in China. The article outlines the major scientific contributions of Shiyan Tao, pays specific attention to his academic career in an international context, and highlights the possible implications of his achievements to the meteorological field in China. Tao came into meteorology while studying at the National Central University (NCU) in 1938. In 1944, he entered the Institute of Meteorology of Academia Sinica (IMAS), and in 1950 he joined the Joint Center for Weather Analysis and Prediction (JCWAP), where he furthered his experiences in weather prediction. In 1958, he published, with coauthors Tu-cheng Yeh and Chen-chao Koo, three important articles in Tellus, giving wider access to his academic contributions in the areas of satellite meteorology, rainstorms in China, East Asian Monsoon, and Tibetan atmospheric research. In this paper, we outline how the indigenous innovations of Tao integrated many international meteorological ideas into the Chinese setting, thereby promoting the development of atmospheric sciences in China. His successes benefited greatly from the desire to: pursue Chinese national requirements, integrate international advances into Chinese meteorology, coordinate research groups, and undertake practical research. He created a Practical School of Atmospheric Science in China and helped mold it with distinctive characteristics indigenous to contemporary China. By virtue of his position, Tao also trained numerous other Chinese meteorologists.