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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

26 June 2004

Unlocking the Antarctic weather's chamber of secrets

Have you ever wanted to know how the strong winds blowing at Mawson station in Antarctica affect the local Emperor penguin colony or if seas across the icy Southern Ocean are really that high?

From today, you can access and interpret this information in new web links launched by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology as part of the Antarctic Midwinter Festival in Hobart.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said the two new products gave a unique insight into the intricacies of Antarctic weather.

"The Southern Ocean and Antarctica offer rare weather conditions. Commonwealth Bay, the home of Mawson's Hut is known as one of the windiest place on Earth," Dr Stone said.

"For the first time, the public can access web-based hourly information on the temperature, wind speed, amount of precipitation and visibility direct from the Bureau's Meteorological offices at the Antarctic stations of Casey, Davis and Mawson and from Macquarie Island in the sub-Antarctic.

"They can also more easily see what the conditions are for the Southern Ocean, including graphical high seas forecasts.

"With the growing interest in Antarctica, more and more people want to know about the scale, variability and intensity of Antarctic weather and what it will mean for our Antarctic expeditioners or for the Emperor penguin rockery at Taylor Glacier for example.

"The International Antarctic Weather Forecasting Handbook is the first comprehensive handbook on forecasting Antarctic weather and allows people to become more familiar with the range of weather conditions experienced in Antarctica. It will also be available from the Bureau's website from today.

"The handbook was a major outcome of the First International Symposium on Operational Weather Forecasting, held in Hobart in 1998. It reflects the true message of international co-operation in Antarctica and includes 59 contributions from forecasters and research scientists across 15 different nations. Twenty-three of these contributions are from Australia.

"The inclusion of these new freely available links from the Bureau's website demonstrates the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's commitment to continue to provide excellent meteorological services for all Australians. The website is consistently rated one of the most popular websites in Australia with between 300 and 400 million hits a month."
Commonwealth of Australia