Alexander Buchan ~ Meteorologist

Known as the father of meteorology, Alexander Buchan was born at Kinnesswood (Kinross-shire) on 11 April 1829. Initial education was at the Free Church normal school. From an early age he took an interest in weather, formalising this study with a degree from Edinburgh University. A teaching job (1848-60) was abandoned due to throat problems and so Buchan changed career directions becoming involved with research into meteorology – his first monthly global atmospheric pressure charts appeared in 1869 and were a landmark development in the science. He was appointed as secretary of the Scottish Meteorology Society in 1860 and held that post for 45 years. His pioneering work into meteorology involved gathering data from across the globe so that large-scale assertions about weather could be made. Such assertions included: Winds in the Northern Hemisphere blow anti-clockwise around an area of low pressure. A key text written by Alexander Buchan is his Report on Atmospheric Circulation (1889). Buchan Spells, which are named after him, refer to periods of unusual warm and cold weather.

Alexander Buchan travelled considerably during his research period collecting data from many countries and regions of the world. To assist him with the mathematical aspects of weather calculations he employed his brilliant niece.

Edinburgh was his primary home as an academic researcher, but his time there was punctuated with periods of rest and relaxation at Kinnesswood. He died at Edinburgh on 13 May 1907.

Amongst his other achievements are membership of the Meteorological Council of the Royal Society (1887) and fellowship of the of the Royal Society (1898).

Makdougall-Brisbane prize (1876)

Symons medal of the Royal Meteorological Society

Gunning Victoria Jubilee prize (1893) of the Royal Society of Edinburgh


Handy Book of Meteorology (1867)

Introductory Textbook of Meteorology (1871)

The Weather and Health of London (with Sir Arthur Mitchell)

Report on Atmospheric Circulation (1889) – Atmospheric Circulation (1889) in the voyage of H.M.S. Challenger

Oceanic Circulation (1895) – Editor