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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment


22 March 1998

Parliamentary Secretary for the Bureau of Meteorology, Senator Ian Macdonald, has welcomed the reinstallation of a Waverider buoy off the west coast of Tasmania. The new buoy will be declared operational on Monday, 23rd March 1998--World Meteorological Day--during the international Year of the Ocean.

The buoy, anchored in 100 metres of water 18km northwest of Cape Sorell, will provide much needed information to help weather forecasters with their wave height predictions and therefore increase safety for boats operating in the area. The information from the buoy will be of immediate benefit to the Tasmanian fishing industry.

"This area of the Southern Ocean has a reputation for gales and high seas," Senator Macdonald said. "Bureau staff have created a new computer system which will give forecasters 24-hour displays of the wave heights and time between waves. The information will be available to the public through the media every three hours."

The West Coast waverider buoy is a collaboration by the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO Division of Marine Research and the Tasmanian Fishing Industry Council (TFIC).

"The Bureau will operate the system and contribute the estimated $150 000 needed for the project between 1997-2002; CSIRO will give scientific and technical advice and substantial in-kind support, and the TFIC will contribute $10 000 in boating costs," said Senator Macdonald. "With a price tag of $23 000, the value of the buoy for boating safety far outweighs its cost."

Between 1985-92, a similar Waverider buoy was operated by the CSIRO Division of Marine Research near Cape Sorell to report valuable weather information and research data which was also used by the Bureau and broadcast to the fishing industry.

"Measurements from the old buoy gave the average wave height for that area of 2.7 metres, from crest to trough," Senator Macdonald said. "However, one monster wave reached almost 20 metres, and while it was estimated by CSIRO as a one-in-ten-years event, it just shows how treacherous that area of the coast can be."

Further information:
Clare Richards, Senator Ian Macdonald's office-- (02) 6277 3665 or 0419 698275.



Tasmanian west coast Waverider buoy systems

Historical background

Between 1985 and 1992 John Reid and Chris Fandry of CSIRO Division of Marine Research got valuable data from operating a Waverider buoy system in 100 metres of water off Tasmania's west coast, near Cape Sorell. The Bureau of Meteorology had access to the information and broadcast it to the fishing industry.

The CSIRO measurements showed that the mean height of waves measured near Cape Sorell wass 2.7 metres from crest to trough. The largest wave measured was nearly 20 metres, which CSIRO estimates as a one-in-ten-years event. Southwest swells recorded by the buoy are representative of swells reaching Torquay in Victoria four hours later.

The Bureau's role

This Southern Ocean environment is noted for gales and high seas. The Bureau continues to give mariners forecasts of wind speed and direction, as well as predictions of sea state and swell. The forecasters in Hobart aim to give at least 12 hours' notice of adverse weather conditions that may endanger life or property: they issue Strong Wind, Gale and Storm Warnings based on computer models of the atmosphere and sea surface waves.

The cooperative project to operate a new Waverider buoy system near Cape Sorell was developed by the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO Division of Marine Research and the Tasmanian Fishing Industry Council (TFIC). The Bureau of Meteorology will provide $150 000 of the estimated total project cost between 1997-2002; CSIRO Marine Research Laboratories will give scientific and technical advice and substantial in-kind support; the TFIC will contribute $10 000 in boating costs.

The new Waverider buoy data will complement visual estimates of sea and swell reported to the Bureau from eight locations around Tasmania.

Tasmania's coastal weather reporting network has been significantly expanded with five new automatic weather installations in 1997.

Commonwealth of Australia