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Media Release
Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage


22 March 2001

Weather volunteers honoured on World Meteorological Day


The many thousands of Australians who voluntarily take weather observations for the Bureau of Meteorology were honoured on World Meteorological Day this year - the International Year of Volunteers - at a ceremony in Melbourne today.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone, presented certificates of recognition to representatives of five groups of volunteers - rainfall observers, storm spotters, river height observers, volunteers at sea, and scientific researchers. A brief profile of some of the observers who attended follows.

"More than 6200 Australians volunteer to take rainfall observations for the Bureau each day. Many continue a time-honoured family tradition that in some cases stretches back five generations and 150 years", Sharman Stone said.

Rainfall observers were represented in Melbourne by Ros Brown of Warburton East, who for 19 years has been recording rainfall near the Upper Yarra Dam - a part of Melbourne's water supply network - and a representative of Como House in South Yarra, which has been recording rainfall for eight years, continuing the 100-year-old records of the Prahran City Council.

"Many thousands of volunteers also make up the Bureau's storm spotters network that aids in the provision of timely weather warnings. When time is critical, the spotters report to forecasters on sometimes deadly and costly thunderstorms, on occasion chase the storms, and report on the aftermath", Sharman Stone said.

"Storm spotters were represented in Melbourne by Dr Julian Hollis of Trentham and Clyve Herbert of Leopold".

Volunteer river height observers, like rainfall observers, sometimes have generations of experience at watching river heights to assist the Bureau in issuing flood warnings and to monitor Australia's water resources. River height observers were represented in Melbourne by John Warden of Oberon and Cath Bell of Yetmen, both in NSW.

"Forecasting the weather on the open ocean can be a more difficult task for the Bureau due to a smaller observations network. Those mariners who volunteer to watch and report regularly on conditions at sea assist in improving the safety of crews and the efficiency of shipping operations".

Volunteers at sea were represented in Melbourne by Captain Ian French of the P&O Nedloyd/Swires ship Arafura and Brian Warburton, representing the CMA/CGM Group ship the Australian Endeavour.

Some retired Bureau scientists also continue to assist researchers in unravelling the mysteries of the weather, comparing the findings of more traditional methods of forecasting with techniques involving atmospheric models run on supercomputers. Research volunteers were represented by retired meteorologist Henry Phillpot of Melbourne, who has spent the 20 years since his retirement working in a voluntary capacity on research into Antarctic weather forecasting.

The Bureau's individual excellence award was awarded to Frank Cummings of the Radar Engineering section, who has served the Bureau for more than 20 years.

"The popularity of the weather radar website ( www.bom.gov.au/weather/radar/) is testament to the dedication of Frank and the radar team at Collingwood in Victoria, and the commitment to providing public access to weather information", Sharman Stone said.

The Bureau's group excellence award was presented to staff involved in the development of the Australian Integrated Forecast System - the Bureau computer system that presents weather observations and analysis to observers and forecasters, through which warnings and forecasts are issued. The award was accepted by team leader Chris Ryan.

The Bureau will also present 54 staff members with certificates recognising their 30 years of service to the Bureau and the Australian community.

* Activities to celebrate World Meteorological Day begin at the Bureau's Head Office (150 Lonsdale St) at 2pm.

For further information please contact:
Mark Jenkin (BOM) 03 9669 4552
Simon Frost (Office of Dr Stone) 0419 495 468
March 22, 2001

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