Led by the Meteorological Service of Canada, atmospheric research in Canada underwent a period of rapid growth after the end of the Second World War. Within this federal organization, and in response to operational challenges and staff shortages, there were significant investments in basic research and in research oriented toward external users within Canada. Specifically, new policies and programs were put in place to enable the organization to gain legitimacy within the scientific community and within the federal government. New links with stakeholders and, more importantly, the development of explicit policies to guide research were a prime focus. These formalized strategies for pursuing two parallel types of research generated some internal conflict, but also helped form a common scientific identity among personnel. There were concerted efforts to disseminate research products and reinforce links both with the scientific community and with external users of meteorological and climatological research. Borne out by quantitative data, this science policy–centered history sheds light on the development of research and research specializations in the field in Canada. Most importantly, it provides insight into the global postwar expansion of the atmospheric sciences, which is strongly tied to national contexts. Indeed, the quest for legitimacy and the close connection to government priorities is central to the history of the atmospheric sciences in the twentieth century. More broadly, this case study points to a possible new conception of government science driven by political, bureaucratic, and scientific imperatives, as a means to shed light on scientific networks and practices.

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