Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

World Meteorological Day commemorated

Media release
22 March 2013

World Meteorological Day celebrations at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's Melbourne head office today focused on a global theme of Watching the weather to protect life and property.

Addressing the event, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell said the theme was of particular significance coming after a year of extreme weather in many parts of Australia.

"Australians have sweltered through record heat waves, faced the ferocity of floods, been battered by cyclones and battled devastating bushfires over the past 12 months," he said.

"During those events, the Bureau of Meteorology continued to provide Australians with warnings and detailed around-the-clock information on extreme weather events that in many cases have been unprecedented."

January this year alone delivered a full suite of severe weather events including heatwaves, fires, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, severe storms, damaging surf and floods.

The significant heatwave in January affected much of Australia. Monday 7 January was Australia's hottest day on record with the average maximum temperature rising to 40.33C. The average maximum temperature exceeded 39C on seven consecutive days in January, which easily broke the previous record of four consecutive days set in 1973.

On 23 March each year, the 191 member nations of the World Meteorological Organization celebrate World Meteorological Day to commemorate the creation of the WMO on this day in 1950, which facilitated sharing of and free public access to weather information covering all corners of the globe.

This year also recognises the 50th anniversary of World Weather Watch, a foundation WMO program that oversees a range of responsibilities, including the delivery of the Global Framework for Climate Services and disaster risk reduction.

Addressing the event with Senator Farrell was former WMO President Professor John Zillman, who described World Weather Watch as "arguably the most successful system yet devised for universal international cooperation for the common good in science or in any other field."

Senator Farrell thanked all Bureau staff for their consistent provision of high-quality services, advice and support to communities, agencies and governments.

"The past year has again seen the Bureau play an active role in informing the public in relation to cyclones, storms, floods, bushfires and heatwaves, all of which had the capacity to severely impact public safety.

"The Bureau's services were integral to the preparation and planning of many agencies, not least the emergency services engaged in responding to unfolding events," he said.

Senator Farrell also presented eight excellence awards to Bureau teams and individuals, acknowledging outstanding contributions and service with far-ranging community benefits.

"The Bureau's work is fundamental to the day-to-day life of Australians and its success is in no small way due to the global collaboration provided through the World Meteorological Organisation. For these reasons we should all celebrate World Meteorological Day."