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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Environment Australia Annual Report 2000-01

Environment Australia, 2001
ISSN 1441-9335

Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau of Meteorology is responsible for the provision of meteorological and related hydrological and oceanographic services to the Australian community, under the authority of the Meteorology Act 1955. The Bureau operates as a self-contained agency within the Department of the Environment and Heritage. The Director of Meteorology presents a separate detailed annual report on the discharge of his responsibilities under the Act.

In order to ensure that Australia is well served by contemporary meteorological and related information, science and services, the Bureau maintains extensive, high quality meteorological observation networks and data archives. It undertakes scientifically based prediction of weather, climate and the state of the atmosphere, oceans and inland waters, drawing heavily on arrangements under the Convention of the World Meteorological Organization for free and unrestricted international exchange of meteorological and related data and information. These activities are underpinned and complemented by a strong in-house and externally cooperative research programme to advance meteorological knowledge and understanding.

The Bureau's head office in Melbourne serves as both an administrative and operational headquarters. It provides overall national strategic planning, management and coordination of the Bureau's integrated observations, telecommunications and data-processing infrastructure as well as of its weather, climate and hydrological services. It includes the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre, the National Climate Centre, the Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre and the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre.

Regional offices are located in each State capital and Darwin. Each regional office includes a regional forecasting centre and a flood-warning centre. The Perth, Darwin and Brisbane offices also include tropical cyclone warning centres. These offices are responsible for all the operational and service activities of the Bureau in the State or Territory concerned and liaise closely with relevant State and Territory Government departments and agencies.

METEOROLOGICAL AND RELATED DATA AND PRODUCTS

Objective

To meet present and future national and international needs for raw and processed meteorological and related data.

Result

Meteorological data and products are the major outputs of the basic observation, communications and data processing systems that are established to maintain an around-the-clock nationwide weather watch and to meet present and future national and international needs for meteorological data. The systems that deliver this output also provide the common foundation on which virtually all the research, services and international outputs of the Bureau depend.
The Bureau's observations programme places particular emphasis on maintaining the quality and continuity of data to the exacting levels required for the national climate record. In addition to meeting internal short-term and long-term requirements, these data form an essential basis for community planning and decision-making in a wide range of applications sectors.

Observing network

The Bureau's observing network extends throughout the Australian region including territories in Antarctica and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, using observational systems operated by Bureau staff, volunteers and contractors. Observations from this network are supplemented by data from automatic weather stations, drifting buoys, aircraft, ships, meteorological satellites and weather watch radar.

Satellites

Australia benefits substantially from the operational meteorological satellite programmes of other countries such as Japan, China, the United States and the European Union. The Bureau maintained its contribution to these programmes through the operation of satellite ground stations and satellite data utilisation and training activities. Japan's geostationary meteorological satellite GMS-5 continued to be the most important source of satellite data for the Bureau. However, following the unfortunate loss of its planned replacement (the Multifunctional Transport Satellite, MTSAT) in late 1999, GMS-5 has been maintained in operations well beyond its five-year design life. With a replacement not scheduled for launch until early 2003, the Bureau gave priority to developing a contingency plan to cover the possibility of early GMS-5 failure.

Standards

As a baseline, the Bureau seeks to benchmark its observation performance against the criteria set by the World Meteorological Organization. Although the large uninhabited area within the Australian observing region, including the surrounding oceans, prevents the Bureau from achieving the standards set by the World Meteorological Organization for network density, the standards for quality and frequency of data can be achieved. Performance targets relating to timeliness and accuracy were met or exceeded for most of the network with the exception of upper wind observations, which continued to move away from target levels owing primarily to difficulties in staffing remote observing stations.

Automatic weather stations

Increased automation was again a key element of the strategy to improve the density, reliability and efficiency of the observing network. The programme to install automatic weather stations was accelerated and some were fitted with additional sensors to measure cloud-base height and cloud amount. However, the cooperative network continued to be very important for ensuring a wide geographic coverage of the continent and valuable visual observations.

Marine observations

The Bureau increased its emphasis on improved performance in marine observations. Commitments were maintained to current levels of Voluntary Observing Ships (84), Expendable Bathythermograph releases (on six shipping lines) and drifting buoys (18 deployed), and the network of marine-specific automatic weather stations was expanded (now five ships). The Bureau collaborated with the United Kingdom, United States and a consortium of European Meteorological Services to commence the first regular weather balloon releases from ships in the southern hemisphere, through the Worldwide Recurring Automated Shipboard Aerological Programme. The programme is an initiative of the World Meteorological Organization to extend the long established Automated Shipboard Aerological Programme outside the northern hemisphere and provide valuable upper air information in data-sparse southern hemisphere oceans.

Equipment installation and maintenance

The effective operation of the Bureau's extensive observation networks relies on the satisfactory installation and maintenance of observation equipment and facilities within time and cost constraints. All equipment installations that were not delayed by external influences were completed on time, within budget and to user requirements. Where influences external to the Bureau forced delays, plans were adjusted within established budgetary constraints. All major equipment faults were repaired according to the Bureau's equipment maintenance strategy, which establishes a priority for repair based on how critical the site is for the successful delivery of services in the short term (days to weeks).

Equipment outages at high priority sites, including those critical for monitoring severe weather events such as tropical cyclones and for supporting aviation operations, were kept to a minimum this year. The average duration of significant outages of all major items of field equipment was from four to eight days. The main influences on outage time were the availability of staff and/or spare parts and the location of the equipment.

The number of faults per automatic weather station per year decreased this year as the equipment replacement programme, funded through the Government response to the 1996 Review of the Operation of the Bureau of Meteorology, continued to take effect. The incidence of faults within the weather watch radar network, however, remained high owing to the increasing age of the equipment and the fact that many are in use 24 hours a day.

Communications

The timely and accurate transmission of meteorological observations, exchange of data and graphical information between Bureau offices and dissemination of the Bureau's services such as forecasts, warnings and specialised products depend on the effective and efficient operation of the Bureau's communication systems. Ninety-five per cent or more of scheduled deadlines for data input and dissemination were met, and an overall user satisfaction rating of 95 per cent was recorded for mission critical systems.

The Bureau website consistently rated in the top three Government sites in Australia. The introduction during the year of free access to weather radar images and short sequence loops from 42 radars around Australia led to a significant increase in public access to important real-time weather information. New systems to accommodate changing user and service requirements were progressed satisfactorily with installation of automated text-to-speech systems for recorded telephone services completed in all seven regional offices and planning of new facilities for radio broadcast of marine information advanced. Improvements to the Bureau's international communications links during 2000-01 included re-establishment of the Melbourne-New Delhi link, which was discontinued in 1998 due to technology limitations.

Computing

The Bureau's computing infrastructure includes three systems: the central computing systems, which are an integral part of the operations of the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre and which support the large-scale numerical modelling research in the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre; distributed computing systems as part of other specialised facilities and programmes; and the computing systems that support the Bureau's regional operations. The ability of these systems to meet the defined requirements of all Bureau operations is a critical component of the Bureau's overall efficiency and productivity. Major upgrades to the central computing systems were implemented during the year to respond to the growing demand for data storage, archival and retrieval of numerical weather prediction products.

The performance of the joint Bureau/CSIRO High Performance Computing and Communications Centre was enhanced through a major system upgrade. The Australian Integrated Forecast System, which provides the extensive computing infrastructure to support the Bureau's regional operations, performed effectively as a critical component of the specialised forecasting operations set up to support the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre

The National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre is the central hub of the Bureau's analysis and prediction operations, running the centralised operational numerical models and providing the meteorological and oceanographic analyses and forecast guidance products on which most of the Bureau's weather services are based. The centre, the seven regional forecasting centres in the capital cities, the Townsville and Canberra meteorological offices and the Antarctic Meteorological Centre at Casey form a national network to support a nationwide and regional weather watch and monitoring operation.

Surveys indicated that 86 per cent of regional forecasters rated the value of the forecast guidance products and the overall performance of the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre and the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre in Darwin as satisfactory or better. Improvements to the prediction systems, measured as increased predictive skill, were attributed to increases in model resolution and improved physics made possible through upgraded supercomputing facilities.

Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games

The special requirements for weather support for the 2000 Olympics and Paralympics were met with the introduction of a high resolution (five kilometre) model around Sydney (also implemented for Melbourne) and enhanced, location-specific output from other systems. The range of systems and products was diversified to address other needs and responsibilities. These include implementation of a system for deriving wind observations from satellite-observed cloud drift, trialing of mosaic images using polar-orbiting satellites and neighbouring geostationary satellites in preparation for the degradation of imagery from the Japanese Geostationary Meteorological Satellite (GMS-5) and extension of the atmospheric transport model to operate at smaller scales (five kilometre).
Environmental emergency response

In May 2001 the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre participated in a full global trial to assess readiness to respond to a large-scale nuclear disaster.

METEOROLOGICAL AND RELATED RESEARCH

Objective

To advance the science of meteorology and develop an integrated, comprehensive description and scientific understanding of Australia's weather and climate.

Result

Meteorological and related research includes both research undertaken in fulfilment of the Bureau's responsibilities as a national research agency to contribute to the advancement of meteorological science in Australia, and research aimed at developing the application of meteorology to the needs of the Australian community.

Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre

The Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, working with the operational areas of the Bureau, is the focus for research activities. The research centre undertakes pure research, strategic research, applied research, and supporting research and development. The pure, strategic and applied components fulfil the Bureau's statutory responsibility for the advancement of meteorological science and the development of the useful application of meteorology to community needs. They also provide the foundation for the research and development that supports the Bureau's operations and services.

The research centre continued to implement the recommendations of the 1999 review, with particular reference to recruitment of high-calibre scientists in key research areas and to succession planning.

As well as their direct contributions through published scientific research, research centre scientists served on national and international working groups and external advisory committees concerned with both scientific and science policy issues.

Scientists from other Australian organisations and from overseas visited the research centre to consult and collaborate with Bureau colleagues.

Pure research

The Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre continued to conduct pure research, which is of broad scientific interest and advances understanding of the natural world. Studies included a collaborative project with Airborne Research Australia to produce a detailed comparison between modelled and observed characteristics of the interaction between radiative transfer and clouds. This will allow more accurate estimates of radiative transfer to be used in global weather and climate models.

Strategic research

A key focus of the strategic research effort was the continued development of a unified atmospheric model that provides the foundation for modelling on scales from a few kilometres up to global scale. The new version of the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre Atmospheric Model (BAM-3) neared completion. Applications will include climate change studies, seasonal climate prediction, medium-range weather prediction, short-range weather prediction and local air quality prediction.

Significant progress was achieved in a number of important modelling studies including quantifying and understanding the feedback processes associated with cloud and other features of the atmosphere, which can amplify the climate perturbation caused by doubling the carbon dioxide concentration in climate models. A statistical downscaling technique, developed by the research centre to estimate local climate features based on the large-scale output from climate models, was extended to include parameters relevant to agriculture. Research continued on analysing and predicting the key features of global oceans.

Applied research

The Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games provided the opportunity for collaboration with other agencies. An air quality prediction system, developed in collaboration with CSIRO and the Victorian and New South Wales environment protection authorities, was run successfully each day over Sydney and Melbourne from August to November 2000. The demonstration period was then extended over summer.

From September to November 2000, an international forecast demonstration project of the World Weather Research Programme was conducted in the Bureau's New South Wales regional office. The project involved nowcasting (very short-range forecasting) systems from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom as well as radar-based systems of the Bureau. The formal demonstration followed development and trials over the preceding two years. The project was judged to be successful on the basis of a positive assessment of the impact of the specialised products on forecast decisions during the demonstration period.

METEOROLOGICAL AND RELATED SERVICES

Objective

To contribute effectively, through the development and provision of meteorological and related services, to: reduction of the social and economic impact of natural disasters; economic development and prosperity of industry; safety of life and property; national security; preservation and enhancement of the quality of the environment; community health, recreation and quality of life; and efficient planning, management and operation of government and community affairs.

Result

The Bureau's meteorological and related services include weather services for the community at large and for marine users, civil aviation, defence, and primary, secondary and tertiary industry; climate services including archived climate data, climate monitoring and prediction; consultative services including the provision of meteorological advice and the conduct of special investigations; and hydrological services including national water resources assessment, national flood warning services and the provision of hydrometeorological advice.

Weather services

Weather services encompass forecast, warning and information services to the general public, national and international shipping and aviation, the Department of Defence and other users.

Services are provided mainly through the regional forecasting centres in the State capital cities and Darwin and through the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre in Melbourne. All these centres maintain a 24-hour weather watch every day of the year, issuing forecasts, warnings and other weather information as required. Weather services are also provided through 43 other service outlets throughout Australia and two at Australian bases in Antarctica.

The primary function of most of the Bureau's offices in rural and remote areas is to collect high quality weather observations (surface, upper air and weather watch radar) but they have an important complementary role in providing current weather information and other services to their local communities.

A large part of the Bureau's output of weather services is available to the Australian community through radio, television and newspapers. Services are also accessible via recorded telephone, marine high frequency radio, facsimile and internet systems.

New products implemented during the year included graphically-presented forecasts of the ultraviolet radiation index. New services included a thermal stress advice service and preparedness for responding to animal health emergencies.

User satisfaction is an important indicator of the effectiveness of weather services and surveys during the year indicated a high level of satisfaction. In particular, 96 per cent of survey respondents considered weather information to be completely or partly accurate and 84 per cent considered the information to be timely.

The Bureau's Basic Product Set, the list of Bureau products that are available free of charge to the community through the media and on the Bureau's website, was fully defined during the year.

This definition of the Basic Product Set included some significant new services, such as free access via the Bureau's website to radar imagery for radar sites across Australia. It also clarified the availability of others. The introduction of radar imagery on the website in December 2000 was in response to direct requests from the public and feedback from numerous organisations. The value of this service to the community was illustrated by the increased number of visits to the website, peaking at 353 000 visits during February 2001.

The Bureau received widespread appreciation for the successful provision of the weather support service for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was the culmination of seven years of planning, and catered for the needs of competitors and spectators. The service included an enhanced free service to the public and a specialised service to the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, for which costs were recovered.

The severe weather warning service performed effectively during the year and contributed to a timely and well-organised community and emergency service response to severe weather situations. An issue of growing concern was the increasing availability on the internet of tropical cyclone-related forecast and warning information from non-official sources such as overseas service providers and international media agencies. In order to ensure that the community received reliable, non-conflicting information during cyclone events, the Bureau worked to ensure strong linkages with the media and emergency services.

In general, the lead times for severe thunderstorm warnings and advices were sufficient to enable protective actions to be taken, although some media criticism was received in one instance where there was perceived to be a delay in issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. The national network of 2830 volunteer storm spotters, who monitor, report and confirm occurrences of severe thunderstorms, was reviewed. The network provides significant assistance to forecasters for both the issue and verification of warnings. The review recommended expansion and improved use of the network, with follow up actions planned for 2001-02.

In delivering the Bureau's fire weather services, Bureau officers in each State and Territory regional office continued to work closely with fire authorities to ensure that, within an overall national policy framework, particular local issues were addressed. A theme across all fire agencies was the continuing need for assistance in the expert provision of fire weather training for fire agency staff. The Bureau continued to assist these activities across several States, participating in a range of pre- and post-season courses. Several new procedures and service improvements were introduced in response to identified needs.

In Victoria, for example, a new procedure was implemented to improve the analysis of wind change lines through continual updating of a chart showing the history of the wind change. A recent study of wind change forecasting accuracy showed that correct initial positioning of the wind change has a significant impact on the magnitude of forecast errors. The wind change analysis chart also assisted in providing continuity of analysis during periods of staff hand-over at change of shift.

In Queensland, service enhancements included expanded coverage of forecasts and strengthening of warning criteria, while in New South Wales the number of special fire forecasts was significantly increased to help fire agencies manage several threatening situations.
Key areas of work, which contributed to enhancing both the quality and range of marine services, related to improvement to marine meteorological and oceanographic observing networks; the continued development of a new marine forecasting system; and implementation of the findings of the coronial inquest into the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

A draft strategic plan for the Bureau's marine observing networks was developed. The plan reflects the growing requirements for coastal and near-shore observations as well as government commitments on the development of an Australian Ocean Observing System as part of the National Oceans Policy and national commitments to the Global Ocean Observing System.

The Bureau took part in the first session of the new Joint Technical Commission on Oceanography and Marine Meteorology, which was jointly established by the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The joint technical commission is intended to better coordinate the provision of marine services both regionally and globally, and to facilitate improvements to services.

Aviation weather services continued to enhance the safety, regularity and efficiency of national and international aviation operations. Services are provided within the international technical and regulatory framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Meteorological Organization, which cooperate closely. Australian domestic aviation is regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and air traffic management is the responsibility of Airservices Australia. Under this international and domestic framework, the Bureau of Meteorology is the designated Meteorological Authority for Australia for the purposes of the provision of aviation weather services.

During the year, the Bureau and Airservices Australia worked towards the development of a memorandum of understanding for the provision of aviation weather services. Formal consultative arrangements involving key authorities, the major Australian airlines and relevant airline associations were used to monitor the service provided and guide its further development.

In conjunction with the major airlines, the Bureau investigated all meteorological incident reports in order to identify deficiencies and explore opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the service. The Bureau contributed to the more effective use of aviation weather services by the aviation industry through participation in a series of Civil Aviation Safety Authority flight safety forums, focusing on identification of hazardous weather and understanding and interpretation of radar information.

Defence weather services contributed to the efficiency and effectiveness of the Australian Defence Force through the provision of accurate, timely and relevant meteorological information. In consultation with users, staff worked to revise the administrative arrangements under which the Bureau provides services to Defence and to develop appropriate service level agreements and performance measures.

The Bureau provided support to Defence operations and exercises as required. Observational, climatological and forecasting services were provided in support of INTERFET (International Force East Timor) operations and the follow-on United Nations operations in East Timor. Support was also provided for Tandem Thrust 2001, a major multi-service exercise involving Australian and United States Defence personnel. Product dissemination procedures were modified to enable more effective access by Defence users to a wide range of meteorological material including tailored weather products, in particular through a registered user area on the Bureau's website.

A focus of the Bureau's special weather services is service delivery and improved accessibility of meteorological and related information, beyond the information available through the mass media and the open internet. The variety of access mechanisms offered, including specialised facsimile and telephone, subscription internet services and direct systems connections, allowed users to adapt their decision-making in real-time in the light of information about current or expected meteorological conditions.

Internet-based subscription services again received significant use, to some extent replacing more traditional access methods since the internet delivery formats are more amenable to generalised use. Demand also grew for additional types of data (both basic data and forecast information) to be made available in new internet-compatible formats, particularly from private sector meteorological service providers who package and build on the Bureau's basic service products to create many of their commercial services.

Further progress was made in the revision and development of data access policies and internal procedures. The Services Management System project, which commenced in early 2000, made good progress towards integrating and streamlining administrative tasks and providing management information for special weather and other cost-recovery services.

The range and number of special weather services provided within Australia on a commercial basis through the Special Services Unit increased and all the domestic performance targets for the unit were met or exceeded. The unit is essentially financially separate from the public interest operations of the Bureau and operates on the basis of competitive neutrality with the private sector and non-interference with the public good functions of the Bureau and overseas national meteorological services. Major domestic activities included specialised services to offshore oil and gas mining industries, the competitive energy market, mining, manufacturing and agricultural industries, and information service providers.

Climate services

The Bureau of Meteorology's climate services are coordinated by the National Climate Centre. They are provided through the centre and through regional offices and field meteorological offices around Australia.

Climate services include the provision of climatic data, information and advice to the general public and to a wide range of specialist users, as well as seasonal and interannual monitoring and, to the extent possible, prediction of climatic fluctuations and anomalies likely to affect agriculture and other sectors of the economy.
The National Climate Centre has primary responsibility for the management of Australia's national climate database. As applications of climate data have increased and become more sophisticated, efforts to maintain rigorous standards in observing practices and data management have also increased. Attention was given to improving the operating efficiency of the computer infrastructure that holds the climate record through hardware upgrades and through development of a new PC-based system for digitising rainfall intensity charts.

The Australian Data Archive for Meteorology database was expanded to provide a more comprehensive resource, in terms of both types of data and lengths of record. The coverage of the database was extended to meet priority needs for hydrological, aviation, radiation and automatic weather station data. Several projects aimed at improving data quality were advanced and significant steps were taken towards making the Bureau's metadata (information about data and how they are collected) more organised and accessible.

The Climate Data Service focused on improving user access to climate data, with a view to facilitating the use of these data in the widest range of applications. Consolidation of standard climate data sets on CD-ROM, preparation of standard map analyses, automation of routine jobs and the continued development of 'The Climate Zone', the climate data pages of the Bureau website, has made climate data more readily accessible and their delivery more timely. The day-to-day operations of the Climate Data Service were modified to reflect the increased use of computer-based data access methods. Use of the Bureau website to access climate information continued to increase, with almost 1.5 million visits for the year.

The Climate Analysis Service contributed to the effective use of meteorological services through enhancement of its web-based delivery of a range of routine climate monitoring products. The focus was on improving presentation and accessibility rather than on extending the content although a significant addition was interannual rainfall comparisons.

Climate prediction services continued to be of particular value to the business and public sectors. Following user requests, a system for temperature outlooks was developed and completed the first year of service. Maximum temperature outlooks were found to be more accurate than minimum temperature outlooks, particularly in eastern and southern Australia.

The National Climate Centre collaborated with the Climate Variability in Agriculture Research and Development Programme to better inform users about the accuracy of seasonal climate outlooks. Users can make a detailed analysis of the potential value of the seasonal outlook for their region.

The National Climate Centre continued to generate new reference climate maps and other climate-related maps as requested by users. Such maps have widespread value to people with planning responsibilities in government, industry and agriculture and to the community at large. A new set of average monthly and annual rainfall maps was released as part of the Climate Atlas of Australia. This is the first published revision of these maps since 1975 and is now available in digital format to comply with user requirements. Work progressed well on a similar temperature atlas.

Consultative services
Consultative services include the provision of advice and the conduct of investigations involving the application of meteorology and related disciplines to fields such as agriculture, engineering, architecture, health, tourism, urban planning and design. Services are provided to government and private users on a public interest, cost recovery or commercial basis, as appropriate.

Consultative services encompass two specific outputs: meteorological advice, which includes professional advice on meteorological and related oceanographic issues and applications, particularly where there is a national need; and special investigations, which include theoretical, experimental or field studies undertaken to meet consultancy requests.

Consultative services provided in 2000-01 involved environmental problems, health and safety issues and issues impacting on the efficiency of the agricultural sector or public utilities. Specific projects related to energy supply issues, including wind generation, and application of rainfall data for drainage design. Feedback from users generally indicated a high level of satisfaction with the service provided.

The Special Services Unit undertook a small number of high value international projects. These projects contributed significantly to the unit's revenue but not to the same degree as in 1999-2000 because, for the first time in several years, there was not a major contribution from a Japanese aid-funded project.

A collaborative project in the Philippines was completed, resulting in significant export of Australian equipment and systems by Mindata Pty Ltd through its Seismic Research Centre. In Fiji, the support programme continued for the meteorological systems upgrade installed in 1998 for the Fiji Meteorological Service, primarily through the work of a Bureau computing adviser located in Nadi. This in-country support is now complete and the Fiji Meteorological Service is managing its own systems.

Other collaborative activities with the private sector were initiated in Malaysia, New Caledonia and the Pacific. The Special Services Unit participated with a number of Australian and overseas companies in the development of tenders for major systems projects in the Philippines, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Sweden and Venezuela. The fact that the unit has attracted major partners in the domestic market reinforces its role as a quality provider of specialised meteorological and related services on both the national and international scene.

Hydrological services

The Bureau's hydrological services include water resource assessment, the provision of flood forecasting and warning services and hydrological and hydrometeorological advice for design.

These services depend on the information collected through the Bureau's basic national meteorological observation networks. The flood warning service also operates a special purpose network of rainfall and river level stations in cooperation with State and local government agencies.

Hydrology sections, incorporating flood warning centres, are located in all regional offices of the Bureau. Overall coordination is provided by the head office Hydrology Unit, which also provides some services. Regional service delivery depends on cooperation with State and Territory water and emergency service authorities and local government agencies. Formal consultative processes, including membership of representative bodies, continued to be an important mechanism for identifying the services required to meet the needs of various user groups.

The Water Resources Assessment Programme contributed to the assessment and management of Australia's water resources through coordination of the Bureau's input to water resource issues and projects. These include data collection systems, decision support systems and monitoring for climate variability and climate change. In a joint project with the Cooperative Research Centre for Catchment Hydrology, the Bureau completed the evapotranspiration volume of the Evapotranspiration Climate Atlas for Australia.

Progress was achieved in the development of seasonal streamflow analysis tools that will assist users to make the most effective use of streamflow data and in the specification of procedures for formal reporting on the status of Australian water resources.

Flood forecast and warning services, designed and delivered in conjunction with local emergency service agencies, are key strategies for enhancing community safety and minimising the human and economic costs of the floods that are a recurrent feature of Australia's climate.

A high level of user satisfaction with Bureau flood forecasting and warning services in general was recorded, through a variety of debriefings and feedback mechanisms. Specific criticisms of the services provided during the major flooding in New South Wales were followed up through public meetings and direct consultation with affected parties.

The number of flood warning products issued, particularly through the Bureau's website, increased and positive feedback was received. The growth in products came about primarily through the introduction of automatically generated summaries of rainfall and river height data. New and improved data collection systems were introduced in several States to improve the efficiency of the service and extend its coverage.

The Hydrometeorological Advisory Service performed effectively in responding to requests for probable maximum precipitation and intensity-frequency-duration rainfall information. The development of robust techniques for the analysis of long-term variability of rainfall and the provision of pertinent hydrometeorological advice to planners continued to be a priority. The revision of the Generalised Tropical Storm Method for estimating probable maximum precipitation continued for its third year and was a major component of advisory activities.

INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL ACTIVITIES

Objective

To meet Australia's international obligations and advance Australia's interests in, and through, international meteorology.

Result

Meteorology is one of the most inherently international of all fields of science and human endeavour. Accordingly, international cooperation plays a vital role in the operation of the Bureau, enabling it to draw on, and benefit from, scientific, technological and operational developments and expertise in other countries while contributing, within its own capability, to the effectiveness of the total international effort from which all countries benefit.

The Bureau's international meteorological activities encompass Australia's involvement with the World Meteorological Organization and with neighbouring countries in the south-west Pacific and South-East Asia. Australia continued to be active in the World Meteorological Organization's World Weather Watch and benefits greatly under this system, particularly through free access to the meteorological satellite data of Japan, the United States, China, the Russian Federation and Europe.

The National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre in Melbourne is an integral part of the World Weather Watch and the closely linked Integrated Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS) and the International Civil Aviation Organization's World Area Forecast System (WAFS). This integration comes from its incorporation of the role of a World Meteorological Centre (one of three), a Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre with activity specialisation in environmental emergency response and an IGOSS Specialised Oceanographic Centre. The WAFS Regional Area Forecast Centre function ceased as of March 2001.

The Bureau's Darwin Regional Forecasting Centre is designated as a Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre with geographic specialisation for the tropical area in the surrounding region. Additionally, Melbourne hosts the World Meteorological Organization Regional Association (South-West Pacific) Regional Instrument Centre and, through the Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre, is a designated Centre of Excellence in Satellite Meteorology Training. These various roles carry specific international obligations, all of which were fulfilled.

Australia maintained its active involvement through 2000-01 in a number of meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic international programmes and activities of the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Sixteen Bureau officers held senior World Meteorological Organization positions during the year including the Director of Meteorology, Dr John Zillman, whose current term of office as President extends through to the 14th World Meteorological Congress in May 2003, and the Deputy Director (Services), Dr Geoff Love, who was elected during the year for a four-year term as President of the Commission for Basic Systems.

The Bureau continued to make a substantial contribution to international climate change issues, through senior level participation in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the negotiating bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Bureau worked closely with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of developing countries in the South Pacific, Asia, the Indian Ocean and Africa. It provided meteorological training and bilateral and multilateral support programmes in collaboration with the Australian Agency for International Development and other organisations, and through contribution to the Voluntary Cooperation Programme of the World Meteorological Organization.

These activities were aimed primarily at augmenting the quality of meteorological and related environmental data in these countries, improving the capabilities of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to undertake research, provide services and monitor climate, improving regional telecommunication links, and enhancing data input into regional and global numerical weather prediction models run by the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre in Melbourne in support of weather services for Australia, and in fulfilment of its role as a World Meteorological Centre.

The effectiveness and efficiency of the Bureau's own operations also benefited substantially through these activities, including through reduced international communication costs and improved coverage by regional observing systems.

Resources table: OUTCOME two - Meteorology

  (1) Budget* 2000-2001 $'000 (2) Actual expenses 2000-2001 $'000 Variation (col (2) less (1)) $'000 Budget** 2001-2002 $'000
ADMINISTERED EXPENSES
(including third party outputs) Write down of assets
0
12
12
0
PRICE OF DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS
Output Group 2.1 - Monitoring and Prediction
140,637
120,795
(19,842)
138,041
Sub-total Output Group 2.1
140,637
120,795
(19,842)
138,041
Output Group 2.2 - Research
10,167
10,669
502
11,538
Sub-total Output Group 2.2
10,167
10,669
502
11,538
Output Group 2.3 - Services
63,345
60,977
(2,368)
60,336
Sub-total Output Group 2.3
63,345
60,977
(2,368)
60,336
Output Group 2.4 - International Meteorological Activities
2,492
3,059
567
2,607
Sub-total Output Group 2.4
2,492
3,059
567
2,607
TOTAL PRICE OF
DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS
216,641
195,500
(21,141)
212,522
Revenue from Government (Appropriation) for departmental outputs
199,358
194,986
Revenue from other sources
17,283
17,536
TOTAL FOR OUTCOME 2 (Total price of outputs and administered expenses)
216,641
195,512
(21,129)
212,522
Average Staffing levels 2000-2001 2001-02
 
1,426.4
1,425.0

* Full-year budget, including additional estimates
** Budget prior to additional estimates