Adelaide site for Australia's most advanced new weather radar

Monday, 31 January 2005

Mr Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Alan Ferguson, Senator for South Australia, and Prof. Robert Vincent of The University of Adelaide, today announced that the first of Australia's technologically advanced weather radars would be built at Buckland Park on the northern outskirts of Adelaide.

Mr Hunt, who has responsibility for the Bureau of Meteorology, said the new Doppler Weather Radar would be developed on land owned by the University of Adelaide. The radar is expected to be operational by mid 2005.

"This is the first of six new Doppler radars as part of the Federal Government's $62 million five-year commitment to replace less powerful meteorological radar systems throughout Australia," Mr Hunt said.

"The improved quality of data provided by Doppler radars allows better detection and improved forecasting of severe weather patterns including severe thunderstorms capable of producing large hail-stones, heavy rainfall, damaging winds and tornadoes.

"It will enhance the Bureau's ability to identify major storms affecting central South Australia, and should increase the warning times directed to the community in the event of severe weather conditions."

Mr Hunt also thanked the valuable cooperation of the District Council of Mallala who approved the site.

Senator Ferguson said the new radar will enhance the quality of forecasts for Adelaide and surrounding areas and would also allow more detailed monitoring of rainfall.

"The new radar will mean better monitoring of weather fronts as they travel up from the Southern Ocean and across the Yorke Peninsula and improved radar-derived rainfall estimates across catchments in the Mount Lofty Ranges - vital as we continue to experience drought conditions," Senator Ferguson said.

"Improvements in short-term forecasting services including better tracking of wind changes will also be a significant bonus for aviation, marine and bushfire fighting communities across the greater Adelaide region."

University of Adelaide Professor of Physics, Professor Robert Vincent, said the new radar data would also be valuable in supporting the University's research program.

"The site is currently used for atmospheric physics research and the addition of the new radar data will be a major benefit to researchers in better understanding weather patterns," Prof Vincent said.

"This is an excellent opportunity for both the University and the Bureau of Meteorology and we are delighted to be working together on this," he said.

The new data will complement the imagery from the existing radar at Sellicks Hills.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The Bureau of Meteorology wishes to raise awareness within the Adelaide and Central South Australian community of a major project to install and operate a state-of-the-art weather radar to the near north of the city. It is proposed to locate the new Doppler radar at Buckland Park, near Two Wells, within the Mallala District Council.

How will the new Doppler radar be funded?

The Bureau of Meteorology operates a network of over 60 weather watch radars around Australia. The Bureau will be implementing new state-of-the art weather radar systems in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Tamworth and Yarrawonga during the 2003-2008 period. The radars are part of a Federally funded 5 year project to accelerate the replacement of some obsolete meteorological radar systems and, at the six identified locations, substantially upgrade weather services through the installation of high resolution Doppler radars.

What is the difference between this radar and conventional radars?

The new radars will be fitted with state-of-the-art Doppler capability that will enable the Bureau to remotely monitor wind flows over Adelaide and adjoining areas, and thereby enhance its current weather prediction and warning services in the region.

How will weather and flood forecasting be improved by the new radar?

The new Doppler information will contribute to a wide range of services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology for the community including hydrological, severe weather, public weather, marine and aviation services. The geographical coverage of the new radar will be integrated with the existing radar network. The ability to monitor wind flows to a level of detail previously unattainable will allow greater accuracy and increased lead-times for weather warnings.

What are the community benefits?

Anticipated ongoing community benefits include
i)Improved short term forecasting of severe weather including, hail, damaging winds, downbursts and tornadoes
ii)Improved techniques for the short-term forecasting of rainfall
iii) Improved radar derived rainfall rates for use in flood warning operations
iv)Enhanced tracking of the location and strength of wind changes, benefiting marine, aviation and bushfire-fighting community.

Potential benefits to the Greater Adelaide and central South Australia area have been conservatively estimated at several hundred thousand dollars per annum.

What is the level of support from "disaster mitigation" stakeholders?

The project has support at all levels of government. State Government Agencies including the State Emergency Service and the Country Fire Service will benefit from the improvements in weather and flood warning services provided by the Bureau.

Why was Buckland Park chosen as the preferred site?

The new radar system for Adelaide will be sited to provide enhanced weather surveillance primarily over central South Australia and more particularly the Adelaide area, including the important Mount Lofty Ranges water catchment areas. After a comprehensive field search, the Buckland Park site has been selected as the preferred option.

For optimum performance, the proposed radar will be strategically located:
i)approximately 30 km north of Adelaide City, on flat terrain,
ii)at a maximum distance from the ranges to the east, to minimise obstructions to radar coverage as much as possible, and
iii)to provide coverage of the Mount Lofty Ranges catchments, in particular the Gawler, Torrens and Onkaparinga Rivers, so that flood warning lead times can be maximised.

Secondary considerations for the choice of a radar site include:
i)The distance from residential and built-up areas to:
ii)Minimise visual impact of the radar
iii)Ensure public safety in the near vicinity of the radar
iv)Minimise existing and future man-made obstructions to radar coverage
v)Site security and vandalism threat
vi)Proximity to mains power and communications services
vii)Road access for maintenance purposes

The Bureau's existing radar at Sellicks Hill, some 60 km south of Adelaide city and at more then 300 metres above sea level is suitable for general weather surveillance but is not ideal as a Doppler radar site. The new Doppler radar will complement the coverage provided by the Sellicks Hill radar.

 

Contact Details

Ms Fiona Murphy
Ms Fiona Murphy
Bureau of Meteorology
Mobile: 0423 577 045


Ms Robyn Mills
Email: robyn.mills@adelaide.edu.au
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084