Australian Weather Calendar
|Eric Schulz with the Southern Ocean weather buoy.
|A typical 27-antenna wind profiler (in Adelaide).
Picture: DANIEL McINTOSH
September: Embracing technological change
IN March 2010, Eric Schulz of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research supervised the launch of a $1 million moored buoy into the Southern Ocean, 470 km southwest of Tasmania. This technological innovation – part of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System dedicated to marine climate research – was to become the first successful Southern Ocean moored buoy.
It takes observations of physical, biological and chemical properties in the sub-Antarctic zone, and its output includes data on wind, temperature, humidity, air pressure, sunlight and rainfall, all of which is transmitted to the Bureau every four hours.
The Southern Ocean plays a critical role in the climate system, acting as a buffer to smooth extremes in the atmosphere by soaking up and releasing heat and carbon dioxide.
The Bureau has always enhanced existing technologies, or embraced new ones, to improve observations and services. Examples include almost 600 automatic weather stations, eight moored ocean buoys central to the tsunami warning network, and six wind profilers (vertical radars) which detect wind speed and direction at heights of up to 18 km.