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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

30 July 2002

Hi Tech Climate Research Facility Opens in Darwin

A new research facility established in northern Australia by the US Department of Energy, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO will significantly advance the study of climate change, according to the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone.

The new state-of-the-art Atmospheric Radiation and Cloud Station (ARCS), near Darwin Airport, will monitor clouds and their effects on the Earth’s radiation balance, which are central to the study of global warming and other changes in climate.

Dr Stone and Dr Wanda Ferrell of the US Department of Energy jointly opened the station today in Darwin. The facility will give scientists better meteorological information leading to more advanced weather and climate forecasting and greater understanding of the dynamics of climate change.

“Darwin is set to become the best equipped and instrumented site for tropical weather research in the world’, Dr Stone said.

“Its geographical location and unique climate characteristics make it ideal for the study of weather and climate across the tropics”.

Complex weather systems in the Western Pacific generate intense convection and maritime monsoonal storms that produce high cirrus clouds. These spread over large areas, altering the solar and terrestrial radiation balance.

“The sophisticated instrumentation in ARCS will provide the most detailed data ever, complementing records obtained from research experiments conducted over the last 20 years”, Dr Stone said.

“This Darwin joint venture is a fine example of the co-operation and commitment, within the scientific community, Universities, international organisations and the Bureau. International cooperation is helping to unravel the complex issues involved in understanding human influence on climate”.

The Darwin station, which is the fifth and newest Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site, has been operational since April. ARM represents the largest climate research program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. Other ARM sites are located on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, as well as in the Southern Great Plains and the North Slope of Alaska in the United States.

Under the terms of a contract between the Bureau of Meteorology Special Services Unit and the US Department of Energy, a team of Bureau technicians will operate and maintain the site to ensure a continuous flow of data. Scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, CSIRO and international agencies will undertake the data collection.

The station’s state-of-the-art instrumentation includes cloud radars, a ceilometer for measuring cloud height, digital all-sky cameras and a micro-pulse lidar. Data gathered at the site will be supplemented by recordings from equipment at the Bureau’s Darwin Airport Meteorological Office, including a Doppler weather radar, wind profilers, radiosondes and a unique polarimetric weather radar.

In addition to its primary data-gathering function, the station will be used as a maintenance facility for repair and testing of instruments from other ARCS sites and to conduct training in the operation of ARCS equipment.

“This is an important new establishment for Northern Australia, that adds to our international reputation for being at the forefront of climate change research”, Dr Stone said.

For further information:
Dr Stone’s Office Simon Frost - 0419 495 468
Bureau of Meteorology: ARCS Science program - Dr Peter May - 03 9669 4490
ARCS Operations – Tony Baldwin – 03 9669 4991

Commonwealth of Australia