$59m Bureau of Meteorology upgrade to usher in a next-generation weather prediction system
- by: Steven Scott National Political Correspondent
- From: The Courier-Mail
- August 14, 2013 12:00AM
A $59 million upgrade for the Bureau of Meteorology to be announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will address criticisms we no longer possess the capability to sufficiently predict extreme weather events that threaten Queenslanders. Source: AFP
KEVIN Rudd will on Wednesday announce a $58.5 million boost to the Bureau of Meteorology, almost two years after receiving warnings it could not properly predict extreme weather.
The Prime Minister will use a trip to Cairns to release his long-awaited response to a review completed in December 2011 that found the bureau was understaffed and could struggle to deal with another summer of floods and cyclones.
Labor’s funding pledge will cover a next-generation flood forecasting system and an advanced storm tide prediction system.
Extra frontline meteorologists and hydrologists will be hired as part of the package.
The Government will also pledge to set up a National Centre for Extreme Weather that will assist other offices during emergencies.
“Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and we need to be in a better position to respond to these events to ensure people can make decisions to protect their lives, their homes as well as community infrastructure,” Mr Rudd said.
“In particular, better flood warnings and advanced storm tide prediction is extremely important for Queenslanders in low-lying areas along the coast.”
The 2011 report written by Chloe Munro, who is now the Clean Energy Regulator, warned the bureau was overstretched and could struggle to accurately predict extreme weather events.
“The bureau is at the limit of its human capacity to provide a sustainable extreme weather forecasting and warning service,” the report said.
“This creates risk for the bureau, the Government and the public.”
Urgently needed upgrades to the bureau’s supercomputer were recently estimated to cost about $40 million.
Environment Minister Mark Butler conceded the bureau was under-resourced but said the funding boost would address the shortfall.
“In recent years, widespread severe weather has led to sustained pressure on the Bureau of Meteorology during periods of protracted extreme weather on multiple fronts,” Mr Butler said.
“This commitment will ensure the bureau has the resources it needs to meet the demands for the essential frontline services the community has come to rely on and trust.”
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