Strategic Radar Enhancement Project (SREP)

In the 2009-10 Federal Budget the Bureau received $48M over seven years for the installation of four new radars, the installation of a verification network for each new radar, and to improve the underlying science for extreme weather forecasting.

Each radar will be furnished with:

  • Doppler capability
  • Rainfall and severe weather verification and,
  • Ingestion of radar data into the Bureau's numerical weather prediction models.

These new installations will significantly improve the existing weather radar coverage by closing significant gaps in the existing network and help to deliver enhanced warnings and forecasts for Australia.

The key SREP objectives are:

  • Deliver four new operational radars into the national network over a five year period with supporting surface wind and rainfall verification networks for each new radar.
  • Provide improved rainfall estimation for heavy rainfall events which will inform planning, preparedness and minimisation of impact from heavy rainfall events.
  • Improve short term forecasts for disaster mitigation through assimilation of radar data in numerical weather prediction models.
  • Incorporate key stakeholder requirements into the project planning. This will provide service improvements to those who rely on our data.

SREP Science

The Bureau currently uses radar data almost exclusively for Nowcasting — predicting what will happen during the short-term (next several hours over scales of a few kilometres). Nowcasting systems use high resolution radar data to provide a detailed forecast for the next hour or two. These techniques are crucial as Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) which is used for predictions beyond the Nowcast period, can be of somewhat limited value in the first 6 hours of the forecast period.

Through the Science component of SREP, the Bureau will undertake research into ingesting and utilising radar observations directly in NWP models to enhance their functionality in forecasting extreme weather, especially on the shorter (less than 6 hours) timescales.

SREP will also coordinate the application of the improved science into Bureau Weather Services for the benefit of the Australian community.

Ultimately SREP will provide improved rainfall estimation and short term forecasts for heavy rainfall events which will inform planning, preparedness to minimise the impact from severe weather events.

SREP Radar Test Bed and Radar Data Quality

The SREP project will be upgrading five existing radars within a radar cluster around Sydney to deliver modified Doppler data streams, improve radar data quality and assimilation into NWP models. This test bed will deliver additional benefits, such as:

  • Enhanced Nowcasting service for extreme rainfall events in the Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong area.
  • Enable forecasters to diagnose severe storm environments.
  • Improve detection of clear-air boundaries which gives vital information for users such as bushfire agencies and the aviation industry.
  • Enable continuous automated monitoring of the Radar outputs from a quality perspective.

The Quality Control system will highlight errors in the processing of the observations. This component of the project is half Research and half Engineering.

SREP Infrastructure

The four sites which will be addressed through the SREP project are highlighted in the image below

SREP radar sites

Wollongong Radar New South Wales

The Wollongong radar has extended the Doppler radar network coverage across the Southern Sydney basin area ensuring the ongoing coverage of the densely populated Wollongong area.

Used in conjunction with the Sydney based radars, the Wollongong radar will significantly contribute to the early identification and tracking of storms and high rainfall events.

The new radar for Wollongong was delivered at Appin in May 2011 to provide an immediate response to the requirement for a Doppler radar in the region. Enhancements to the Wollongong (Appin) weather radar are now complete, delivering real-time, detailed weather information to the Illawarra region. Located on the Woronora plateau 18 kilometres north-west of Wollongong, at an elevation of 449 metres above sea level, the site provides unobstructed views for the radar in all directions.

Further information about the Wollongong radar:

Hobart Radar Tasmania

The Hobart radar located on the top of Mount Koonya was delivered in April 2012 and offers continuous and Doppler weather watch coverage to this high population centre and its surrounding environment. The new radar will also help improve forecasts for the region by providing forecasters with additional information on rainfall, and tracking of storms and cold fronts that impact southeast Tasmania.

Further information about the new Hobart radar:

Mount Isa Radar Queensland

The Mount Isa radar will provide coverage to a heavily populated and economically important mining community. This radar will contribute to the monitoring of rainfall from tropical storms, including cyclones tracking from the Gulf of Carpentaria, as well as support forecasts and warnings and monitoring of other weather systems in northwest Queensland.

The Mount Isa radar will be located on Telstra Hill, 8km east of Mount Isa and is anticipated to be in service by end 2012 (calendar year).

Arafura Radar Northern Territory

The radar to be located at Warruwi (South Goulburn Island) will provide critical information to the cyclone prone North Coast of the Northern Territory. The enhanced weather and warning information will service the remote Northern Territory communities of Arnhem Land and the substantial tourist industry.

In-service delivery for the Arafura radar is planned for 2013 (calendar year).

Verification Networks

To support and validate the interpretation of the information derived from the new radar, a new rain gauge network will be rolled out, and new automatic weather stations (AWS) will be installed at strategic locations within the area covered by each radar. The new rain gauges and AWS will also provide routine meteorological information to the general public and industry and be ingested into the Bureau's Numerical Weather Prediction models to support weather warnings routine forecasting.