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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Federal Environment Minister

3 September 2001

HILL LAUNCHES WORLD-CLASS AIR FORECASTING SYSTEM


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today launched a world-class air forecasting system capable of predicting photochemical smog and carbon monoxide levels in individual suburbs on an hourly basis.

Senator Hill said the $855 000 Australian Air Quality Forecasting System, funded from the Federal Government's $2.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust, used a Bureau of Meteorology-CSIRO supercomputer to track air movement and predict smog patterns.

"The air forecasting system will be a useful tool for urban planning and will help people with health problems such as asthma," Senator Hill said.

"It will help people plan outdoor activities, enable Environment Protection Agencies (EPAs) and industry to test the effectiveness of pollution controls, and raise awareness of air pollution."

Senator Hill said the system, launched in Melbourne, would improve knowledge of urban pollution sources.

"The Government is committed to giving urban and rural communities information on their local environment and the Australian Air Quality Forecasting System will play an integral role in achieving that," Senator Hill said.

"This system has the potential to provide local air quality forecasts for each suburb and town. It will also enable projections of how air quality may be improved through people's behaviour, such as reducing car use."

Victoria is the first state to make the forecasts publicly accessible through its website at www.epa.vic.gov.au and to use the system in operational forecasting.

Scientists are able to provide two forecasts. One shows predicted levels of pollutants. The second shows how air quality might improve on high pollution days if there is a concerted public response, such as more people using public transport.

"This Air Quality Forecasting System will be a vital tool for educating the community about the effects of motor vehicles and wood fires on air quality," Senator Hill said.

"I congratulate CSIRO, EPA Victoria, the New South Wales EPA and the Bureau of Meteorology for collaborating on this world-class forecasting system, and am proud that it has been developed here in Australia. We look forward to extending forecasts to other Australian cities."

From wood smoke and vehicle emissions to industrial chemicals, the Federal Government is working closely with States, stakeholder groups and the community on a range of national initiatives to improve air quality.

Under the Natural Heritage Trust, almost $20 million is being spent on the Air Pollution in Major Cities Program to reduce community exposure to major urban air pollutants through national action in the five key areas of transport, industry, residential, monitoring and coordination.

The Federal Government is also working to reduce air pollutants under the Living Cities - Air Toxics Program, and is also assisting with the implementation of national standards for major air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, smog, carbon monoxide and airborne lead.

September 3, 2001

Media Contact:
Belinda Huppatz 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia