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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 2001-02

Environment Australia, 2002
ISSN 1441-9335

Review of Performance - Outcome Two: Meteorology (continued)
Meteorological and Related Research

Objective

To advance the science of meteorology, develop an integrated, comprehensive description and scientific understanding of Australia's weather and climate, develop the application of meteorology in the national interest and improve the operations and services of the Bureau.

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.

The Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre is the focus for research activities, many of which also involve collaboration with staff from the operational areas of the Bureau. The research centre's work is based around six thematic groups, reorganised from time to time to respond to research priorities. The nature of research is such that each of the groups, and most of the projects undertaken within each, include a combination of strategic and applied research. A small component of the activity is aimed at pure research. Together, they 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 through the development of advanced systems and techniques.

Pure Research

Progress was achieved through the pure research components of Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre programmes, which aim to advance the understanding of the natural world and are of broad scientific interest. Achievements included improved understanding of the low-level wind structure of tropical cyclones, which provides a basis for development of techniques for forecasting tropical cyclone winds, storm surges and wind waves. Progress towards understanding the nature of climate variability and predictability was made through development of a method for studying patterns of variability from year to year.

Strategic Research

A modest but positive impact on southern hemisphere weather prediction was produced by the experimental inclusion of new types of meteorological and oceanographic data in the Bureau's global weather forecasting model. New approaches were used to assimilate these remotely sensed data into real-time models.

The use of satellite-derived wind information, estimated by tracking identifiable features in infrared, water vapour and high-resolution visible imagery from the Japanese geostationary meteorological satellite GMS-5, was shown to have a quantifiable positive impact on model output in the Australian region.

A rigorous and consistent methodology for evaluating new model features and their effectiveness in simulating real-world conditions was developed by the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre. The system provides for a faster and more efficient assessment of model output and enables a greater understanding of modeled processes.

Research centre studies were successful in advancing understanding of the El Niņo-Southern Oscillation phenomena and climate variability. As part of the research centre's climate change programme, researchers investigated the ability of a coupled ocean-atmosphere model to simulate changes in the behaviour of the El Niņo-Southern Oscillation phenomena when forced by an increase in carbon dioxide. With much of the year-to-year variation in Australia's climate attributed to these phenomena, studies such as these are especially relevant.

Applied Research

Following the official launch of the Australian Air Quality Forecasting System in September 2001 by the Commonwealth and Victorian ministers for the environment, scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, CSIRO and the environment protection authorities of Victoria and New South Wales have collaborated to produce detailed forecasts of air quality for the Melbourne and Sydney metropolitan regions. The Australian Air Quality Forecasting System was funded by the Air Pollution in Major Cities Programme and sponsored by Environment Australia.

The operational performance and capability of the research centre's operational transport and dispersion model were extended to enable an effective response to a possible outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. A special version of the model was developed to treat the transport and dispersion of the virus and the model can now be applied anywhere in Australia.

The Bureau's warning services were enhanced through the development and implementation of an upgraded thunderstorm cell tracking system and an experimental web-based graphical thunderstorm product for Sydney Airport. This work was supported by the aviation industry. Other radar-based applications included the development of advanced image processing techniques to help detect hazardous weather such as microbursts.

Weather forecasting services to the community were improved through the development of automated, robust objective forecast guidance techniques. These were established for 600 Australian sites using combined direct model output and statistical techniques. These improvements stem from investigative work relating to aspects of the end-to-end forecast process, which is part of the Bureau's Forecast Streamlining and Enhancement Project.

The Bureau's forecasting services were enhanced through the development of forecasting aids for the identification and prediction of low cloud or fog. Through evaluation of the fog prediction capability of operational numerical weather prediction systems, the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre developed a number of new guidance products for weather forecasters. Similarly, a volcanic ash detection project aimed at improved detection and forecasts of ash dispersion, streamlined forecast preparation and the provision of improved products was commenced.