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Media release
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders

25 March 2006

Historic Australia - US meteorological partnership signed today

Australian weather forecasting will benefit from a new scientific link between the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Bureau of Meteorology announced today.

"The Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will today sign a Memorandum of Agreement under the umbrella of the US - Australia Science and Technology Co-operation Agreement," Mr Hunt said.

"This will initially facilitate two cooperative projects to improve services to the community. Australia will receive the latest US software systems for forecasts and warnings, and work closely with US scientists on the continuous improvement of these systems."

"Australia will also install and assist in the maintenance of a number of US-designed deep ocean buoys that are critical for tsunami monitoring and early warning."

"Australian meteorologists have long been recognised as among the most innovative researchers and forecasters in the world."

"This historic agreement will strengthen the Australia - US partnership in meteorology and will offer meteorologists and oceanographers from both Australia and the United States the opportunity to trade technical and scientific expertise to the benefit of both countries."

Australia's Director Meteorology Dr Geoff Love said the new software to support forecasting would be introduced over the next three years and will give the Bureau the capacity to reach more Australian's with information more relevant to their needs.

"A key feature will allow Australians to get online graphical and text forecasts-'personalised' for weather, location and times of interest- by tapping into a continually-updated database of current and expected weather conditions."

"Australian meteorologists will work with their United States counterparts and scientists from both countries will refine the forecasting software for local use."

"For example WA wheat farmers will be able to click on a map of their local area and call up rain forecasts specific to their farms and Victorian fire fighters will be able to enter the coordinates of a major fire, seeking temperature and wind conditions."

The Memorandum will be signed at the Bureau of Meteorology Head Office in Melbourne at noon by the Director of the US National Weather Service, Brigadier General David L. Johnson, United States Air Force (retired) and Australian Bureau of Meteorology Director, Dr Geoff Love.

"We must work within our own countries and across borders in partnership to mitigate the impacts of hazardous events on the world's population," General Johnson said.

"Our efforts should be founded on collaboration, partnership, and integration of services, and should recognise characteristics of climate regions, watersheds, and ecosystems; and should optimise the latest science, technology, and training."

"For example, Australia is an important partner of the US in the effort to upgrade tsunami warning services worldwide."

"The Australian contribution in the Indian Ocean is vital--we will work closely with the Bureau, especially on placing ocean buoys. The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii will benefit from enhanced data from The Australian Tsunami Warning System's expanded network of sea level and seismic instruments."

Media Contact:
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's Office) 0415 740 722

Commonwealth of Australia