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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

23 March 2004

Bureau of Meteorology honours fire forecasting teams


World Meteorological Day has been chosen to commemorate the work of Victoria and NSW fire forecasters who made an extraordinary effort during the severe bushfires of January and February 2003.

World Meteorological Day marks the coming into force of the Convention of the World Meteorological Organization on 23 March 1950, a United Nations agency that promotes the free and unrestricted exchange of weather related information to advance socio-economic development and to protect the environment.

Mr Mel Ward AO, former Managing Director of Telecom Australia, will deliver the 2004 World Meteorological Day Address on Weather, Climate and Water in the Information Age at 11.45 am today at the Bureau of Meteorology Headquarters, 150 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, following the presentation of the Group Excellence Award.

The fire weather forecasting teams in NSW and Victoria worked tirelessly to provide hundreds of additional forecasts, seven days a week, around the clock. Their excellent service in providing forecasts and briefing services during fires unprecedented in modern times stretched Bureau resources to the limit for almost two months.

This year's World Meteorological Day theme focuses on the ever-more-powerful computing and communications technologies that have transformed weather science and services, especially in the ways the community can access weather information and education. The most dramatic example is the Bureau's website, which smashed records in January with half a billion hits, largely due to the Melbourne thunderstorms of January 29 and 30. The site ( www.bom.gov.au ) was also judged Australia's best-performing site for 2003 (download speed and reliability) by internet monitoring company, Avoka Technologies.

An Individual Excellence Award will be presented to Dr Graham Mills of the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre for contributions to research and numerical weather prediction, including atmospheric transport, which helps with the tracking of smoke and balloons, air quality modelling and bushfire-related research.

(A media kit containing Dr Ward's speech, the booklet Weather, Climate and Water in the Information Age, and a poster to mark World Meteorological Day (distributed to many Australian schools), will be available at the function.)

Commonwealth of Australia