S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Howard, Mr Adolph Gislingham (meteorology)

Born: 22 June 1853, Southampton, United Kingdom.
Died: 22 October 1926, South Africa.

Adolph Gislingham Howard, architect and meteorologist, was educated in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and served an apprenticeship in architecture with John R. Mackenzie in Scotland, remaining with the firm for a total of five years. He came to the Cape Colony in January 1876 and from September that year was employed as a draughtsman in the Public Works Department, Cape Town. In August 1883 he was promoted to chief draughtsman, and in July 1897 became assistant architect under the chief architect of the Public Works Department, H.S. Greaves. After Greaves's death he succeeded to the post of chief architect in July 1906. Among other work he prepared revised drawings for the Houses of Parliament and the General Post Office in Cape Town, retiring on pensiont in 1908 or 1909. He was a member of the (British) Society of Architects. A manuscript by him on the histories of Cape Town buildings is kept in the National Library of South Africa, Cape Town.

Howard's hobbies included meteorology, botany, astronomy and geology, but he made significant contributions to only the first of these. Several of his early meteorological papers were published in the Transactions of the South African Philosophical Society. "An investigation into the isobaric influences and cyclonic paths of South Africa" (1884-1886, Vol. 4, pp. 25-33) contains an analysis of the barometric indications of oncoming storms. He returned to the topic soon afterwards with "The winter storms of South Africa, illustrating the value of Cape Point as a warning station" (1886-1889, Vol. 5, pp. 204-215), in which he showed that it would be possible to forecast these storms one to three days ahead if a meteorological station were to be erected at Cape Point. In "The barometer; its reduction to sea level" (1886-1889, Vol. 5, pp. 259-265) he showed which method of reduction was best suited to South African conditions. The value of this work was recognised by the American meteorologist Professor Cleveland Abbe*, who in 1890 drew attention to the advances Howard had made in establishing a proper forecast service in South Africa.

Though he was not a member of either the South African Philosophical Society or its successor, the Royal Society of South Africa, Howard continued to publish papers in the Transactions of the latter society after its formation in 1908. These included "The rainfall of South Africa: the possibility of prediction over the south-west" (1908-1910, Vol. 1, pp. 363-390), based on an analysis of daily rainfall figures for several years and the development of daily pressure systems; and "Meteorology of South Africa: An investigation into the land and sea breeze conditions at Port Elizabeth" (1910-1912, Vol. 2, pp. 161-171). By 1912 he was working in the Cape Town branch office of the newly established Union Weather Service, and on 15 April that year issued its first forecast, covering the Cape south coast. He was still a weather forecaster in 1913, but by 1914 was no longer in the public service. Some of his later papers appeared in the annual Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science: In "South African meteorology: Weather forecasting" (1912, Vol. 9, pp. 55-64) he reviewed previous attempts to issue regular weather forecasts, and discussed the various types of weather, their seasonal occurrences, and their application to forecasting. In "South African meteorology; types of atmospheric pressure, their duration and movements" (1919, Vol. 16, pp. 273-284) he analysed the frequency of pressure types and their association with weather elements such as clouds.

Howard's interest in geology is shown by his donation of a specimen of nickeliferous pyrrhotite from Mount Ayliff, Griqualand East, to the South African Museum in 1908.

List of sources:
Cape of Good Hope. Civil service list, 1896, 1908.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the trustees of the South African Museum, 1908.

History of meteorology in South Africa. Weather Bureau Newsletter, 1960, No. 139, pp. 1-48 (whole number).

Howard, Lucy. In eGGSA Library. Retrieved from http://www.eggsa.org/library/main.php?g2_itemId=933186 on 2017-12-5.

Men of the times: Old colonists of the Cape Colony and Orange River Colony. Johannesburg: Transvaal Publishing Co., 1906.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Howard, Adolph Gislingham / Howard, A.G.

Royal Society of South Africa. Transactions, 1908-1912, Vol. 1-2.

South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1912, Vol. 9; 1919, Vol. 16.

South African Philosophical Society. Transactions, 1884-1886, Vol. 4.

South African who's who, 1908, 1909.

Venter, R.J. Bibliography of regional meteorological literature. Vol. 1. Southern Africa, 1486-1948. Pretoria: Weather Bureau, 1949.

Compiled by: C. Plug