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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

2 February 2004

International Focus on Floods

More than 100 international and Australian meteorologists, engineers and hydrologist are meeting over the next three days in Melbourne to share ideas and information using weather radar as the eyes on the storm.

Flooding, often associated with tropical storms or unseasonal heavy rainfall, can cause enormous damage to the built environment. It also takes lives.

The international symposium on the Hydrological Applications of Weather Radar has been jointly organised by the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, and includes representatives from universities, operational agencies and research institutions.

Recent advances in the use of weather radar from countries including the UK, USA, Canada, France, Spain, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan will be discussed.

This is only the second time such a meeting has been held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Dr Sharman Stone, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage, opened the conference and called on experts from around the world to ensure weather radar was continuously improved so it could more accurately measure and forecast rain.

"Engineers and meteorologists are forever looking at ways to better predict and deal with forthcoming storms, rainfall and subsequent flooding," Dr Stone said.

"Rainfall from severe storms causes major disruption and damage to many Australian cities, such as the recent flash flooding in Melbourne and severe thunderstorms in South East Queensland last week.

"Flooding in rural areas damages roads and homes, and can sweep away years of investment in farm and industry development.

"Better warning systems, even an extra half an hour to prepare for oncoming weather, can save lives and allow more time to protect property," Dr Stone said.

"Using research from a range of Australian and international studies, we can improve public safety through better flood and flash flood warning services, and also the more efficient design and operation of major urban and rural drainage design."

The symposium coincides with the recent Australian Government allocation of $62.2 million to the Bureau of Meteorology to upgrade Australia's weather radar network with state-of-the-art technology.

"There are more than 200 million public hits on the Australian Bureau of Meteorology radar websites each month, as Australians watch rainfall development."

Commonwealth of Australia