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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

25 February 2004

Upgrade to Queensland Weather Forecasting

The Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology in Queensland will be the first to benefit from an upgraded version of the innovative Australian Integrated Forecast System (AIFS).

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, said the new system will streamline internal operations, allowing forecasters to analyse data and prepare forecasts and warnings quicker.

"The first versions of the AIFS were installed in the Bureau's forecasting centres between 1996 and 1999, revolutionising the way information was processed and disseminated," Dr Stone said.

"The systems are the core of the Bureau's operations, supporting the major functions of Regional and field offices throughout Australia.

"They assists forecasters by integrating information from many sources and rapidly communicating a range of products.

"Functions of the system include data collection, decoding, plotting, display analysis and the preparation of forecasts, warnings and bulletins.

"The AIFS also handles scheduling arrangements and sending information outside the Bureau, including to the media."

The new, upgraded system comprises of a pair of identical servers that feed data to high powered workstations on forecasters' desks. Dr Stone said the dual system would ensure a high level of reliability.

"If there is a problem with one server, operations will automatically switch to the other," Dr Stone said.

The cutover on 26 February will replace five-year old IBM J50 servers with new generation IBM p650 servers that run at least six times faster than the old machines. Costing almost $500,000 the new servers have the capacity to be upgraded, as demand grows, to double the initial Central Processing Unit and memory resources.

Dr Stone said the Queensland upgrade is the first in a series which will take place nationwide over the next 12 months.

The Bureau's Victorian Regional Office will be next in line, as part of a move to its new Docklands offices mid-year, followed by New South Wales and Tasmania in the second half of 2004. Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory will be upgraded in 2005.

Commonwealth of Australia