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Joint media release
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
David Tollner MP
Federal Member for Solomon
John Forrest MP
Federal Member for Mallee

21 February 2006

Darwin international weather experiment completed

A groundbreaking international weather research experiment being held in Darwin for the past 23 days has now concluded, announced the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Bureau of Meteorology, Dave Tollner MP, Federal Member for Solomon and John Forrest MP, Federal Member for Mallee.

The Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment collected data that will enhance the understanding of tropical clouds and improve weather and climate forecasts.

"The experiment involved 20 missions by five research aircraft flying at altitudes ranging from 60 feet to 55,000 feet and the launch of 1000 weather balloons from various sites around Darwin, Mr Hunt said.

"The Bureau of Meteorology is very excited by the results and I am sure the data collected will be used by scientists for years to come. The data will ultimately improve our ability to forecast regional weather and simulate climate change. It will also allow scientists to study the development and movement of the monsoon low."

Federal Member for Solomon David Tollner said he was pleased the event attracted international scientists and media to Darwin.

"This event was a great opportunity for Darwin to be recognised as a centre of scientific excellence at the forefront of climate research, Mr Tollner said.

"The experiment attracted scientists from over four continents, including more than 30 graduate students from a range of institutions and media outlets from as far away as Canada and the United Kingdom."

Federal Member for Mallee John Forrest said the experiment has produced one of the most comprehensive data sets of tropical cloud properties ever collected.

"This will further not only local but international scientists' understanding of the structure of cirrus clouds and the environment in which they are formed", Mr Forrest said.

Co-led by scientists from the Bureau of Meteorology and the U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program, the experiment used highly sophisticated instruments including radars and in-cloud ice particle sensors located on a fleet of aircraft to show researchers the composition of high-altitude clouds.

"By taking images of the ice crystals as the aircraft climbed through the clouds the scientists have collected a unique data set on the size and shape of small ice crystals," Mr Hunt said.

"This data will provide information on how the properties of ice clouds vary with temperature and altitude - an area of current scientific uncertainty but of great importance for understanding how clouds affect radiation and climate."

A major contributor to the Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment was Australia's floating laboratory, the Southern Surveyor, provided by CSIRO. RAAF Base Darwin and Charles Darwin University provided facilities and invaluable logistic support to the experiment.

Media enquiries:
Kristy McSweeney 0415 740 722 (Mr Hunt's office)
Michael Kauter 08 8981 3434 (Mr Tollner's Office)
Sally Turvey 03 5032 4510 (Mr Forrest's Office)

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