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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 1999-2000

Environment Australia, 2000
ISBN 0642450420
ISSN 1441-9335

Outcome 2 - Meteorology

Purpose

The purpose of the Bureau of Meteorology is to contribute to Australia's social, environmental, economic and cultural goals through the performance of the functions of a national meteorological service in the public interest generally and in particular:

Mission

The overall mission of the Bureau is to observe and understand Australian weather and climate and provide meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic services in support of Australia's national needs and international obligations.

Australia benefits from meteorological and related science and services

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 and 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 and 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 service provision. It also includes the National Meteorological Operations 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, and 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.

 

FOCUSING ON BROAD MISSIONS:
Monitoring Research Services International
THE BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY DELIVERS A RANGE OF OUTCOMES
METEOROLOGICAL AND RELATED DATA AND PRODUCTS
METEOROLOGICAL AND RELATED RESEARCH
METEOROLOGICAL AND RELATED SERVICES
INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGICAL ACTIVITIES

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 and related data and products are the major outputs of the basic observation, communications and data-processing systems established to maintain an around-the-clock nationwide weather watch and to meet present and future national and international needs for meteorological data. The basic observational, communications and data-processing systems that deliver this output also provide the common foundation on which virtually all the research, services and international outputs of the Bureau depend.

In general, the observations programme performed satisfactorily in delivering data of a sufficient density, representativeness, accuracy, homogeneity, continuity and reliability to meet the basic requirements of other elements of the Bureau's operations and to meet essential internal and external needs for Australian climate data. Due to the large area to be covered and the high cost of observation in sparsely populated regions, some of the Bureau's networks operate at standards significantly below international benchmarks for station density and data accuracy as set by the World Meteorological Organization. The most difficult standards to achieve are related to the density of upper air observations. This year saw a general increase in the percentage of scheduled observations performed on time and within prescribed accuracy limits within the surface, upper air and space based network. Performance targets of 85-95 per cent of scheduled observations were met or exceeded for the upper air wind-measuring network (88 per cent), for the surface synoptic network (88 per cent) and for the spaced-based network (98 per cent). Though marked improvement in the quality of the upper air temperature and humidity (radiosonde) observations was evident again this year and the network provided sufficient data for essential Bureau operations, radiosonde observations remained below target at 80 per cent of scheduled observations due, among other things, to difficulties experienced in staffing remote observing stations.

The effective operation of the Bureau's extensive observation networks relies upon the satisfactory installation and maintenance of observation equipment and facilities within time and cost constraints. Following a rigorous annual planning exercise, schedules and budgets were established for all new facilities, strategic upgrades and ongoing maintenance. All equipment installations that were not delayed by external influences outside the control of the Bureau 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. Major works included: the installation of 21 new automatic weather stations; the relocation of the Brisbane Airport weather radar to the site of the new field meteorological office; the installation of a Doppler weather radar in the Sydney area in support of the forecasting effort for the 2000 Olympic Games; and the installation of automatic weather balloon facilities (autosondes) at Eucla and Charleville. All major equipment faults were repaired according to the Bureau's equipment maintenance strategy, which establishes a priority for repair, based on the criticality of the site for the successful delivery of services in the short term (days to weeks).

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, are dependent on the effective and efficient operation of the Bureau's communication systems. The Bureau's computer message switching system receives and forwards meteorological data and processed products both domestically and internationally. In recognition of the increased productivity and improved services made possible through the system, the Technology in Government Committee awarded the Bureau a joint silver award in the 2000 Government Technology Productivity Awards. This was the fourth such award presented to the Bureau in the past 13 years. During the year, 99 per cent of surface data and 95 per cent of upper air data were received at the National Meteorological Operations Centre before the nominated cut-off times for input into the Bureau's analysis and prediction systems and 95 per cent of output products from these systems were delivered to the regional forecasting centres before the scheduled deadlines for dissemination. These performance levels were sufficient for the effective communication of meteorological information, forecasts and warnings to users.

The Bureau's computing systems infrastructure includes centralised systems, which support the large scale numerical modelling research and prediction operations, distributed systems, which support the individual head office programme activities, and regional systems in support of regional operations. The ability of all these systems to meet the requirements of the operations that they support is a critical component of the Bureau's overall efficiency and productivity. The newly completed Australian Integrated Forecast System in particular proved extremely reliable this year. There was some loss of efficiency within the supercomputing facility during the latter part of 1999 as the memory requirements for the high resolution numerical models approached the limit of the facility's resources, but this issue was subsequently addressed through a strategic plan for scaling operational and research systems through to 2003. The strategy included the replacement of the NEC SX-4 supercomputer with an SX-5 by August 2000 and the addition of a second SX-5 by November 2000.

The National Meteorological Operations Centre continued to serve as 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 upon which most of the Bureau's weather services are based. During the year, the National Meteorological Operations Centre continued to exceed service levels for timely delivery of forecast guidance, with 98 per cent of forecasts received before the scheduled deadline for dissemination. In particular, thorough Year 2000 planning and implementation ensured a smooth transition from 1999 to 2000, with no impact on essential centre operations and services and no significant international data losses. Despite an increase in volume, the distribution of analysis and forecast guidance products improved during the year due to the high level of automation of the dissemination systems and improved computing and communications systems.

Through the integrated operation of the National Meteorological Operations Centre and the regional forecasting centres, the Bureau was able to maintain a comprehensive and responsive national and regional weather watch network during the year. The integrated operation of the observations, engineering, communications, computing and analysis and prediction functions all contributed effectively towards providing a reliable output of high quality meteorological and related data and products and a sound foundation for the provision of routine basic and special weather services, and timely warning of developing dangerous weather situations.

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. The Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre in collaboration with the operational areas of the Bureau carries out the main research activities.

The activities of the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre embrace 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 research and development that supports the Bureau's operations and services through the development of advanced systems and techniques.

The second major external review of the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, which was carried out in August 1999, attested to the quality of the centre's research and its contribution to national and international atmospheric science. The review commended the centre on the progress achieved since the earlier review in 1992 and on the extent to which the recommendations of the first review had been implemented. The review committee's report recognised the high international standard of Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre research:

Whether measured in international, national or internal Bureau terms, the quality of the research conducted in the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre is attested to be of the highest standard. This judgement is based not only on submissions to the Review, but also on parameters such as the esteem with which Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre scientists are regarded by their peers within Australia and around the world; the high representation of Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre scientists on international scientific bodies; the Centre's publication record; the high calibre of visitors to the Centre; the significance of collaborative ventures with other leading international research centres; and the successful implementation of Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre research results into the operational areas of the Bureau and the service improvements that have ensued.

(Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre Review: Report of the Review Committee,
Bureau of Meteorology, December 1999, p. 8.)

Within the pure research component of Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre activity, important progress was achieved towards understanding and quantifying the nature of inter annual climate variations. New statistical techniques, developed for determining the relative significance of weather noise (the daily weather fluctuations), low-frequency internal variability (chaotic climate fluctuations) and external forcing (potentially predictable variations) within inter-annual climate variations, suggest that long-range climate predictability may be largely confined to the world's tropical and subtropical regions.

Due to the chaotic nature of the atmosphere, small differences in the specification of its initial state can lead to substantial changes in its predicted state a few days ahead. In the Southern Hemisphere, where there are large expanses of ocean, satellite data are used to specify the initial temperature and moisture distribution in the atmosphere. A variational technique, developed during the year to assimilate spectrometer data from the United States polar-orbiting satellites into the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre global weather prediction model, was able to optimise the impact of the data, leading to significant improvements in prediction accuracy in the Australian region.

The Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre led a study to analyse trends in extremes in temperature and rainfall across the Asia-Pacific region. Participants from 15 countries took part in a workshop in December hosted by the centre in which daily rainfall and temperature data were quality controlled and analysed in a consistent manner. The study found significant increases in the annual number of hot days and warm nights across the whole region over the last 30 years.

The impact of the Pacific Ocean on Australian climate variability has long been recognised, but increasing attention has been focused over the past decade on the role of the Indian Ocean. Analysis conducted during the year showed, however, that the apparent influence of the sea surface temperature patterns in the Indian Ocean are largely linked to the El Niņo phenomenon of the Pacific Ocean. There is a residual independent impact of the Indian Ocean on Australian climate, but its behaviour is complex and not yet well understood.

Following extensive testing, nine major model upgrades and improvements were transferred from research to the Bureau's operational areas during the year. These ranged from new processing systems for data from geostationary meteorological satellites to major upgrades of the limited area prediction system and the implementation of a new analysis scheme for smaller spatial scales, as part of the Australian Integrated Forecast System. An average of six changes per year were transferred from research to operations over the past five years.

The Sydney Olympics in September 2000 will have provided a focus for an international nowcasting (very short range forecasting) demonstration project under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization's World Weather Research Programme. Trials of the demonstration project, involving systems from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom as well as from the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, were successfully conducted in September 1999 and February 2000, ensuring that products from the radar based systems can be effectively fed into the Bureau's operational procedures for the generation of very-short range forecasts and warnings.

The Bureau's commitment to nurturing high quality research within the tertiary sector continued, through direct collaboration and teaching roles and through the Cooperative Research Centre programme. As well as contributing to the overall health of Australian atmospheric science research, these efforts contributed to a higher quality pool of potential operational and research staff for the Bureau.

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 a wide range of 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 Operations 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 45 other service outlets with 43 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 provide high quality weather observations (surface, upper air and weather watch radar) but they also have an important complementary role in providing current weather information and a range of other services to their local communities.

A large part of the Bureau's weather services is available to the Australian community through the mass media (radio, television, newspapers) but services are also accessible via recorded telephone, marine high frequency radio, facsimile and World Wide Web/Internet systems.

Weather services are provided in line with the Bureau of Meteorology's Service Charter for the Community. A broad range of consultative mechanisms are in place, involving Commonwealth and State authorities and major commercial and community user groups, to help ensure that services evolve and continuously improve in accord with user needs.

Perhaps more than any other single element of Bureau operations, weather services have a direct and visible impact on the lives and day-to-day decisions of most Australians. Quarterly surveys conducted during the year showed that 90 per cent of users surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with the weather forecast, warning and information services they received. One hundred per cent of rural and 94 per cent of metropolitan respondents considered that weather forecast and warning services are essential services.

Severe weather warning services were provided effectively during the year and made a substantial contribution to the community and emergency services' response to severe weather situations. While the bushfire season was relatively uneventful in most of Australia, the tropical cyclone season was very active, with 11 cyclones, including four which reached category 5, the most powerful on the severity scale.

The performance of the Bureau's warning services for tropical cyclones was highly satisfactory, with the accuracy of the 24-hour forecast position estimates for the season being the highest on record. Pre season planning and ongoing liaison with State and Territory emergency service authorities, throughout the high risk seasons and during particular severe weather events, were important factors in the effectiveness with which the Bureau's service was provided.

In all areas of weather service provision, user liaison and consultation continued to be high priorities in ensuring the delivery of appropriate levels of service. Aviation weather services aim to enhance the safety and efficiency of national and international aviation operations, and a range of formal consultative arrangements are in place to monitor the service provided and guide its further development. Extensive consultation with the aviation industry was a key ingredient in the development of new and improved operating procedures in 1999-2000.

Expansion of marine services and service access was based on intensive nationwide liaison and consultation at State and industry level. The new Australian marine forecasting system proceeded through its development phase this year and it is clear that the system will substantially enhance both the quality and range of marine services. Preparation of a strategic plan for the Bureau's marine observing activities commenced, with the aim of providing an integrated framework for the development of marine meteorological and oceanographic observing networks over the next five years.

The recent changes to the defence weather service, in particular the establishment of the Defence Meteorological Support Unit in Darwin, were an important element in the high quality support provided to the International Force - East Timor (INTERFET) during the year. As acknowledged by the Air Component Commander of INTERFET, the quality of the forecast information provided by the Bureau contributed directly to the efficiency and effectiveness of aircraft operations in East Timor.

Users are the best judges of the extent to which forecasts, warnings, information and advice are accurate and timely. Through routine surveys, more than 80 per cent of respondents agreed or agreed strongly that weather information was always given in time and was sufficiently accurate for them to make decisions. This reflects the considerable efforts that have been made to improve the accessibility of Bureau services and the range of access options, as well as efforts to improve the quality of the underlying information.

The full implementation of the Australian integrated forecast system and ongoing implementation of the Australian meteorological data and information service system were important contributors to this result.

Changes in the role and operation of special weather services during the year were a reflection largely of the changes taking place in service delivery and accessibility of meteorological and related information. The growth in the range of information accessible through the Bureau's web pages and the increasing market penetration of Internet technology have changed the balance between usage of the various access options (fax, telephone, Internet and dedicated communications links). The average weekly hit rate to the Bureau's web site during 1999-2000 was 2 million and reached 5.5 million per week in early April when Cyclone Tessi and Cyclone Vaughan threatened North Queensland. The Bureau web site consistently rated in the top three Federal Government sites in Australia for the year.

The extent to which the Bureau was able to respond to specific user requirements for forecasts and weather information to underpin decision making in a wide range of government and industry sectors was enhanced through the operation of the Special Services Unit. The activities of the Special Services Unit broadened in 1999-2000 both in terms of the number of users served and in the scope of services provided.

Climate services

Climate services encompass the provision of climatic data, information and advice to the general public and a wide range of specialist users. Long term climatic data, obtained from both basic and special observation networks and stored in the National Meteorological Data Bank, are published in the form of climate summaries and atlases, and made available in both hard copy and computer compatible form for use in research, design and applications to all walks of life. Climate services also include the month to month and year to year monitoring of major climatic fluctuations such as drought and flood rains and, to the extent possible, the prediction of climatic anomalies likely to affect agriculture and other sectors of the economy.

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

Government, community and industry planning have always included some consideration of the local climate and its variability, but this consideration has increased substantially in recent times, with planners demanding more detailed, more application specific and more accessible climate information and using climate monitoring updates to adjust their plans in the short term. Responding to these demands, the National Climate Centre has increased substantially its range of automated analyses of climate elements over the past few years and improved accessibility by making these available on the Bureau's web site. This year efforts were concentrated on meeting modern needs for high resolution mapping of the basic climate elements such as rainfall, temperature and evaporation, as well as maps with specific practical applications, such as frost frequency and comfort indices. To date analyses (month-to-date, season-to-date and year-to-date maps), which are particularly useful for monitoring rainfall variability on intraseasonal time scales, were also added to the range, and were useful in monitoring the failure of early season rainfall in the cropping areas of south-west Western Australia.

Information on user satisfaction with climate services and their requirements for new products is gathered through regular surveys, through feedback facilities on the Bureau's web site and through direct contact with regular and high-volume service users. Feedback provided this year indicated a high level of satisfaction with the services and appreciation particularly for the new products provided. Three new projects were initiated this year in direct response to feedback from the users of the SILO web site, a facility established specifically to provide a focal point for access to agrometeorological data. Feedback from representative end-users of the Bureau's Seasonal Climate Outlook, who were this year invited to attend monthly climate meetings, will be used to guide the continued improvement of this particular service.

To assist users of climate data and information in making the best use of the data, climate services staff take part in a wide range of user liaison activities, including rural field days, farm management seminars, major agricultural shows, National Science Week, conferences, and presentations to schools and other groups. One challenge is to present probability-based seasonal forecasts in easily understood terms, and resources were directed specifically to addressing this issue during the year.

The National Meteorological Data Bank is the central repository for the meteorological and related data obtained from the Bureau's basic and special observation networks. The climate elements held are those required to satisfy the basic climate service as well as a growing number of specialised services. All data is subjected to multi-level quality control procedures, starting at the point of observation and concluding at the point of use.

Quality control standards are those appropriate for the uses to which the data are put and are therefore updated as new elements are added and as user requirements change. Significant progress was made this year on developing new techniques for the improvement of the quality of newly added elements, including those from automatic weather stations and daily rainfall totals from flood warning networks. Most of the data is stored, managed and accessed through a relational database, which provides a high standard of data security and effective backup and recovery support. Direct access to the database requires proficiency in database language skills, but user interface utilities have been developed for use by climate services staff and a web based system, which will eventually be available to the public through the Bureau's web site, is well advanced.

Consultative services

Consultative services include the provision of advice and the conduct of investigations involving the application of meteorology and related disciplines to such fields as agriculture, engineering, architecture, health, tourism, transport, urban planning and design. Services are provided to government and private users on a public interest, cost recovery or commercial basis, as appropriate. The Bureau head office in Melbourne coordinates the services but draws on expertise from throughout the organisation.

Consultative services encompass two specific outputs: meteorological advice and special investigations. Meteorological advice includes professional advice on meteorological and related oceanographic issues and applications, particularly where there is a national need. Special investigations include theoretical, experimental or field studies undertaken to meet consultancy requests. These are delivered in the main by the Bureau's Special Services Unit which operates on a commercial basis and is essentially financially separate from the public interest operations of the Bureau. The Special Services Unit has offices in Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane and a staff of 32.

Much of the meteorological advice provided through consultative services is used to enhance community and individual health and safety. Work practices, building design and urban planning all include some consideration of the local climate and weather conditions from the perspective of the health and well-being of the people they affect. Requests for safety-related meteorological advice this year ranged from climatologies of tropical cyclones, lightning and extreme winds, to information on rates of pollutant dispersal.

Understanding of climate variability and change is of vital importance to a wide range of planning activities. Government and community interest in climate-responsive urban planning and building design in particular is growing. In response to this growing interest the Bureau has sought to build a comprehensive bank of knowledge and a useful level of expertise in these areas to ensure that it can meet the needs of planners for the climate information on which these plans and designs are based. Information kits in the form of brochures, display stands and web pages were published, many talks were delivered to community organisations and student groups, and presentations were made to conferences on the potential use of meteorological information in planning and design activities.

The Special Services Unit operates on the basis of competitive neutrality with the private sector and non interference in the public good functions of overseas national meteorological services. The continued growth in the Special Services Unit's revenue has exceeded projections and reinforces its role as a quality provider of specialised meteorological and related services on both the national and international scene. The international activities of the Special Services Unit provided the most significant contribution to its revenue. These were usually undertaken in collaboration with firms from the Australian private sector and represented a significant growth in export income. Three of these projects were carried out under contract to Mitsubishi Corporation, under the auspices of the Japan Weather Association, and were funded by Japanese Government grant-in-aid.

The provision of consultative services generally involves close interaction with the client. For those services delivered in 1999-2000, unsolicited opinion received from clients was overwhelmingly positive.

Hydrological services

The Bureau's hydrological services include water resources assessment, the provision of flood forecasting and warning services, and hydrological and hydrometeorological advice for design. These services depend heavily 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 included 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.

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 cost of the floods that are a recurrent feature of Australia's climate. These services were delivered effectively to communities in all States and the Northern Territory this year, particularly following resurgent La Niņa conditions in late 1999 and the associated widespread flooding. There were 1445 flood warning messages issued during 1999-2000, which is slightly above the average for the last decade. This service covered flooding in small creeks as well as in the longer slow-flowing inland river systems. Forecast flood heights were accurate to within 0.3 metres on 75 per cent of occasions and feedback from the specialised agencies involved in flood response revealed a high level of satisfaction with these services.

A particular feature of the flood warning service this year was the increased number of products (river height bulletins) available on the Bureau's web site and faxed to service users during floods. The total number of accesses to automated hydrological service delivery systems was some 260 000, of which 10 000 were enquiries to facsimile systems and 250 000 were enquiries to the Bureau's web site.

Government and community planning for a secure water supply and the safety of the infrastructure that supplies it relies on credible advice about the long-term variability of rainfall and associated streamflows. The development of robust techniques for the analysis of these elements and the provision of pertinent hydrometeorological advice to planners were a major component of the Bureau's hydrological services again this year. Significant developments included the compilation of a national set of streamflow data to be used in developing techniques for forecasting seasonal streamflow, with data provided by State and Territory water agencies; and the completion of development work on a method for estimating probable maximum precipitation for the west coast region of Tasmania and its application to two catchments. Liaison and collaboration with State water agencies ensured the relevance of these developments and increased the likelihood that the best use was made of the advice provided.

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 and 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. This helps to ensure that the Australian community receives the best services possible within the limitations of available resources and the international state of the art in meteorological science and technology.

The Bureau's international meteorological activities encompass Australia's involvement with the programmes and activities of the World Meteorological Organization and in a range of other multilateral and bilateral activities with neighbouring countries in the South-west Pacific and South-east Asia. Australia is particularly active in the World Meteorological Organization 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 Operations Centre in Melbourne is an important and integral part of the World Weather Watch and the closely linked Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Integrated Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS) and the International Civil Aviation Organization's World Area Forecast System (WAFS) through its incorporation of the role of a World Meteorological Centre, a Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre with activity specialisation in environmental emergency response, an IGOSS Specialised Oceanographic Centre and a WAFS Regional Area Forecast Centre. The Darwin Regional Forecasting Centre of the Bureau is designated as a Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre with geographic specialisation for the tropical area in the surrounding region. These various roles carry specific international obligations for the provision of global and regional meteorological products such as tropical cyclone or pollution dispersion predictions. Both the Melbourne and Darwin centres fulfilled their formal international obligations.

Australia continued to maintain its active involvement and influence in World Meteorological Organization programmes this year through membership of 11 World Meteorological Organization constituent bodies and participation in a number of important international meetings. Fourteen Bureau staff held senior World Meteorological Organization positions during the year, including the Director of Meteorology, whose current term of office as the President extends through to the 14th World Meteorological Congress in May 2003.

This year's World Meteorological Day on 23 March commemorated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization. The occasion was marked by a 21 March address by the former President of the Organization and retired head of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, Dr Roman Kintanar, and distribution of a media release, poster and booklets as well as display panels for the Bureau's head office and all regional offices.

Technical assistance to developing countries in our region, particularly in the area of surface and upper air observations, is one of the means of increasing the flow of essential observational data to Australia as well as contributing to the overall effectiveness of meteorological service provision in the region. The Bureau provided a barometer to Niue and seven Stevenson screens to the Solomon Islands. In addition, a DigiCora upgrade kit to provide global positioning system capability for upper air measurements was provided to Papua New Guinea under the World Meteorological Organization Voluntary Cooperation Programme.

The Bureau also continued to maintain and develop existing bilateral programmes with National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in other countries. These programmes enabled cost effective application of pooled regional resources and expertise to new challenges and opportunities in meteorology through research and development, and transfer of new technology for the collective benefit of the countries concerned. They also provided exposure to Australian meteorological technology in the Asia-Pacific region and helped further Australia's foreign policy. A memorandum of understanding between the Bureau and the Islamic Republic of Iran Meteorological Organization, on cooperation in meteorology and particularly in the areas of climate, weather forecasting, meteorological applications and new technologies, was signed in Geneva in May 2000. During 1999-2000, the Bureau collaborated with eight countries under formal memoranda of understanding: China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and Vietnam.

The Bureau continued its support for the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the South Pacific by providing the team leader and several officers to assist in the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme Pacific meteorological service needs analysis project, funded by the Australian Agency for International Development, AusAID. This included preparation of a report, Pacific Meteorological Services: Meeting the Challenges which recommended a comprehensive set of development projects aimed at upgrading weather and climate services in Pacific island countries and territories.

The Bureau of Meteorology delivers a range of outputs

Four key output groups contributed to the achievement of outcome 2 - Australia benefits from meteorological and related science and services - aligned directly with the four key elements of the outcome as follows:

For full details of the outputs of the Bureau of Meteorology see the Bureau's Annual Report 1999-2000 or refer to the Bureau's web site at www.bom.gov.au.