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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

22 March 2004

Bureau of Meteorology Honours NSW Fire Forecasting Team


The fire weather forecasters who supported fire fighting campaigns in NSW and Victoria during the severe bushfires of January and February 2003 have received the Bureau of Meteorology's Annual Group Excellence Award for 2004.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Bureau, will present the award to the forecasters during World Meteorology Day celebrations in Sydney today (Monday 22 March).

“During fires unprecedented in modern times, these men and women demonstrated public service of the highest possible standard, maintaining round-the-clock service for almost two months,” Dr Stone said. “Bureau resources were stretched to the absolute limit.”

The Director of Meteorology, Dr Geoff Love, will talk on the 2004 World Meteorological Day theme of Weather, Climate and Water in the Information Age at the Bureau's Regional Office in Sydney at a function commencing at 10am.

World Meteorological Day marks the coming into force of the Convention of the World Meteorological Organization on 23 March 1950. This year's theme focuses on ever-more-powerful computing and communications technologies that have transformed weather science and services, especially in the ways the community can access weather information and education.

The most dramatic example is the Bureau's website, which smashed records in January with half a billion hits, largely due to the Melbourne thunderstorms of January 29 and 30. The site ( www.bom.gov.au ) was also judged Australia's best-performing site (download speed and reliability) for 2003 by an internet monitoring company, Avoka Technologies.

This year's Individual Excellence Award will be presented to Dr Graham Mills of the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre for many contributions to research and operational aspects of numerical weather prediction. He is also known for applying numerical weather prediction in new service areas like atmospheric transport (including movements of balloons and smoke), air quality modelling and bushfire-related issues.

(Tomorrow, in Melbourne, the Victorian counterparts of the NSW fire forecasters and the Individual Award recipient will receive their award from Mr Mel Ward AO FTSE, who will make the World Meteorological Day Address.)

Commonwealth of Australia