Services in the spotlight

See businesses, government, emergency services and the community in action—making critical decisions, planning ahead, optimising business operations and protecting safety with the help of our environmental intelligence. Our products and services support economic prosperity, public safety, national security, societal well-being and environmental sustainability for all Australians.

Supporting national security with meteorological training

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is crucial to Australia's national security. It carries out military operations, provides humanitarian support and disaster assistance and protects our borders.

The Bureau of Meteorology plays a vital role in the training of Air Combat Officers at No. 1 Flying Training School, RAAF Base East Sale. Bureau forecasters (who are also instructors) train students to interpret weather data, user aviation warning information and understand the impact of weather on flight planning and aircraft performance. Bureau staff also work closely with the RAAF at the base, providing tailored meteorological information around the clock to support safety during aerial exercises. This covers everything from thunderstorm and cloud information to ground conditions such as wind speed and fog that could make landing hazardous.

RAAF King Air K-350 aircraft fly in formation down the coast from Sale to Geelong.
Credit: Department of Defence

James Parton

The Bureau provides a critical enabling
service to the delivery of RAAF aircrew
training. Instructors and students alike rely
on accurate and timely meteorological
forecasts, trends and actual airfield
conditions for the safe and effective
execution of training missions. The product
supplied by Bureau staff is world-class and
directly contributes to training outcomes.

James Parton
Wing Commander
Commanding Officer
No. 1 Flying Training School
RAAF Base East Sale

Forecasting seasonal streamflow for water management

Water availability in any catchment area can vary enormously from season to season. Managing the available water supply so that, among other things, farmers can irrigate crops, environmental water can be allocated to support native plants and animals, and the risk of flooding can be minimised, is the responsibility of water authorities. They must make judgments such as when (or if) to release water to irrigators and fill or empty storages. The Bureau of Meteorology's seasonal streamflow forecasts, together with rainfall and temperature outlooks, assist them with predicting inflows to major water storages, and water demand—crucial inputs for their decisions.

The Australian Groundwater Explorer enables the visualisation, analysis and downloading of groundwater information.

Lake Eildon, an important inland waterway, was primarily built to supply water for irrigation. Image: Alison Pouliot

Steve Barnett

Goulburn–Murray Water uses seasonal
streamflow forecasts to help manage the
filling of Lake Eildon. Due to its size and
location on the Goulburn River, Lake Eildon
is very important for water supply and
flood mitigation. The seasonal streamflow
forecasts assist by providing far greater
certainty about the likelihood of inflows.

Mark Bailey
Manager Water Resources
Goulburn–Murray Water

Forecasting 7-day streamflow for river operations

Water levels in our rivers and reservoirs rise and fall, depending on the amount of rainfall and how much of that reaches our waterways. River operators keep a close eye on these fluctuations to ensure that irrigation and environmental water needs are met throughout the year. A key part of their job is assessing the amount of water likely to flow down rivers and into reservoirs in the coming days, weeks and months. The Bureau of Meteorology's 7-day streamflow forecasts help them make those assessments.

Each day, the Bureau issues 7-day streamflow forecasts for more than 100 locations across the nation. These forecasts are generated by combining real-time observations of rainfall and streamflow with rainfall forecasts and hydrologic models. They provide valuable guidance to river operators who make choices about flow diversions and reservoir releases. The forecasts also benefit irrigators, water traders and people using the rivers for recreation.

The 7-day streamflow forecasts are used to manage water at Hume.

The 7-day streamflow forecasts are used to help manage water at Lake Hume.

Steve Barnett

Having these forecasts is fantastic!
It allows us to more accurately
estimate what these natural inflows will be.
This means we can meet our Lake Mulwala
objectives with greater precision by making
the right releases upstream. We can also
plan for releases in conjunction with natural
flows to improve environmental
outcomes downstream.

Andrew Bishop
River Operator
Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Monitoring water quality in the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's most spectacular marine ecosystems, but is vulnerable to environmental stresses such as climate change and pollutant runoff from catchments. Ocean temperature and water quality information is essential to understanding the health of the reef and the likelihood of events such as coral bleaching and coral disease outbreaks. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority monitors reef health using the Bureau of Meteorology's Marine Water Quality Dashboard. Information from the dashboard is used to develop impact assessments and response plans to reduce the effect of the major environmental pressures that pose a risk to the reef.

The Marine Water Quality Dashboard

The Marine Water Quality Dashboard is used to
monitor a range of water quality indicators across
the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Roger Beeden

The Marine Water Quality Dashboard gives me
improved information on water temperature and
quality within the Great Barrier Reef Marine
Park, updated daily. The dashboard also
provides daily snapshots of conditions across
the park going back to 2002. This helps park
managers better understand the pressures on the
reef ecosystem and how they are changing over time.

Roger Beeden
Director - Tourism and Stewardship
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Authority (GBRMPA)

Forecasting for fire management

Bushfires can pose a major threat to the safety of Australian communities, particularly when conditions change and deteriorate rapidly. Fire services around Australia use the Bureau's comprehensive suite of weather information, alongside expert advice from its fire weather forecasters, to assist with planning, operations and critical decision-making. Using this information, fire service professionals are able to visualise and understand the weather conditions affecting fire danger in their area. This helps them plan activities for high-fire-risk days and pinpoint the location and timing of the most dangerous conditions. The information is vital to predicting fire movement and growth, which informs safety messaging to the community. Outside the fire season this information helps identify windows of opportunity for prescribed burning, supporting year-round risk management.

Snapshot of the Next Generation Forecast and Warning System

The Next Generation Forecast and Warning System, displayed here in MetEye, showing wind speed and direction for South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Graham Rennie

This information from the Bureau
is powerful. Forecasters and fire fighters
can see images of the fire-danger ratings across
the State and watch real-time changes in
the forecasts. It really is a case of
'a picture is worth a thousand words'.

Simon Heemstra
Community Planning Manager
NSW Rural Fire Service

Enabling pilots to steer clear of volcanic ash

Ash ejected high into the atmosphere from volcanic eruptions presents a serious safety risk for aviation. If ingested into jet engines it can cause serious damage and even power failure. The Bureau of Meteorology operates one of the world's nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres, which provide pilots with real-time information on volcanic ash hazards. The Bureau reports on possible and active eruptions and the distribution and movement of volcanic ash in the atmosphere. Qantas pilots use the Bureau's volcanic ash advisories to navigate safe routes through the Asia–Pacific region, where there are more than 150 active volcanoes.

Indonesia's Sangeang Api volcano erupting in June 2014

Indonesia's Sangeang Api erupted in June 2014. Domestic and
international flights from Darwin were grounded until conditions were safe to fly.
Image: Sofyan Effendi, Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Graham Rennie

The active Indonesian volcanic archipelago
presents challenges for air travel over this region.
The Bureau's volcanic ash monitoring and
forecasting service provides essential information
necessary to allow Qantas to determine how it will
operate safely and efficiently.

Graham Rennie
Principal Advisor
Global Operations Development

Enabling safer medical missions

Pilots at Australian Helicopters use specialised aviation weather forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology to guide their operations throughout South Australia. With vast distances to cover and few landmarks to help with visual navigation, accurate weather information is particularly vital in outback regions. Bureau forecasters assist pilots in their detailed flight planning by providing tailored phone briefings and forecasts for remote destinations. This enables Australian Helicopters to plan safer routes and make 'go or no-go' decisions for their emergency medical flights.

Rescue helicopter landed on road with police car

Aviation company Australian Helicopters relies on specialised
weather forecasts for its emergency medical flights.
Photo: Andrew Taylor

Graham Rennie

Berri hospital can be a difficult destination
for night-time medical evacuations during winter,
due to its long distance from Adelaide. Low cloud
about the Mt Lofty Ranges can make navigation difficult,
with the potential for icing on the aircraft. Low cloud and
fog in the Riverland can also make flight planning there
challenging. The weather intelligence we receive from the Bureau enables us to operate with confidence during our medical emergency flights.

Andrew Taylor
Assistant Base Manager, Pilot–Adelaide
Australian Helicopters

Providing a national view of groundwater resources

As the Australian population and economy has grown, so has the demand for water. Because access to surface water has been constrained, an increasing demand has been placed on groundwater reserves. Recent national water reforms identified the need to improve basin water planning, particularly for the sustainable use of groundwater. Previously there was no consistent national view of groundwater systems and aquifer characteristics, with each State and Territory adopting its own classification scheme. The Bureau of Meteorology's Australian Groundwater Explorer now provides a consistent, detailed picture of the nation's groundwater resources. This is particularly useful for groundwater systems that traverse jurisdictional boundaries.

The Australian Groundwater Explorer enables the visualisation, analysis and downloading of groundwater information.

The Australian Groundwater Explorer enables the visualisation,
analysis and downloading of groundwater information.

Steve Barnett

The Australian Groundwater Explorer
gives users the ability to access groundwater
data for the entire country from a single website.
It is the first time I have been able to see South
Australian groundwater information presented in the
context of the rest of Australia. This greatly simplified
the task of building a cross-jurisdictional hydrostratigraphic
model (which shows sedimentary layers) for the whole
Murray Basin.

Steve Barnett
Principal Hydrogeologist
South Australia Department
of Environment, Water and
Natural Resources

Supporting operations in Antarctica

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) operates a significant ongoing scientific research campaign in Antarctica that requires complex logistical support. This involves regular shipping, boating, aviation and overland movements that are subject to considerable weather hazards. Operations on the icy continent can be hampered for days by harsh weather conditions, including poor visibility, extreme cold and high wind speeds. To operate safely, Antarctic expeditioners rely on specialised weather observations and forecasts provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Support is provided 24/7 by Bureau weather observers and forecasters based at three Australian bases in Antarctica and by our specialist Antarctic meteorology team, based in Hobart.

Wilkins ice runway near Casey station, Antarctica, with the AAD's Airbus 319 and specialised vehicles.

Wilkins ice runway near Casey station,
Antarctica, with the AAD's Airbus 319
and specialised vehicles.

Dr Rob Wooding

The Bureau gave
excellent forecasting support during
the rescue and evacuation of three people
injured in a helicopter incident on the Amery
ice shelf. The evacuation process was complex,
lengthy and highly constrained by narrow 'windows'
of safe weather conditions. The injured expeditioners
were brought to Davis station and then flown to Hobart.
The Bureau provided continuous and detailed weather
intelligence, enabling the response team to safely plan
and execute the emergency rescue.

Dr Rob Wooding
General Manager
Support & Operations Branch
Australian Antarctic Division

Supporting shipping with tide predictions

Safe access of shipping to ports is governed by the height and timing of the local tides. The Royal Australian Navy Hydrographer, the International Hydrographic Commission and the International Maritime Organization all require tide predictions to be provided for Australian ports in order to allow international shipping activity there. The Bureau of Meteorology's Tide Prediction Service provides tidal predictions for more than 700 locations around Australia. Ports Australia's 24 port and maritime authority members use this information to ensure safe, efficient commercial operations at Australia's major and secondary ports.

Tide predictions are made by the Bureau of Meteorology for locations around Australia using tidal data collected by the Bureau and port and maritime authorities.

Tide predictions are made by the Bureau of Meteorology for
locations around Australia using tidal data collected by the
Bureau and port and maritime authorities.

Susan Fryda-Blackwell

The tide predictions provided by the
Bureau are critical for the safe navigation
and passage of vessels arriving and departing
from Australian ports. The predictions are used
in dynamic under-keel clearance software systems,
which enhance navigation for large ships in restricted
waterways. The combination of both sets of data ensures
maximum use of the tidal window for fully laden vessels,
resulting in significant cost savings for the shipping

Susan Fryda-Blackwell
Executive Officer
Ports Australia

Alerting the community to tsunami threat

In response to the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, the Australian Government commissioned the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC). Operated by the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia, JATWC provides warnings to the Australian community within 30 minutes of an undersea earthquake. The emergency operations team at the Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services use these warnings to prepare for and respond to any tsunami threat to Western Australia's coast. If an earthquake were to cause a tsunami the team stands ready to activate their tsunami-response plans.

Deep-ocean tsunami detection buoy

Deep-ocean tsunami detection buoys
are a vital part of the Australian tsunami
warning service.

Gary Gifford

Prior to the tragic events of
December 2004 Australia had a very
limited tsunami-alert service. Today the
JATWC provides comprehensive tsunami-threat
information to Australian emergency response
agencies and to other National Tsunami Warning
Centres since established around the Indian Ocean.
This new capability greatly mitigates the danger of
tsunamis to coastal communities.

Gary Gifford
Assistant Commissioner
Western Australian
Department of Fire and
Emergency Services