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Marine science research ship nears completion

Friday April 5, 2013 - 23:19 EDT

A new marine science research ship being built for Australia's Marine National Facility is on track for completion before the end of the year.

Dr Peter May, the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research's deputy director, is part of a technical advisory group for the Investigator.

He has told Radio Australia's the ship will be equipped with a "dual-polarisation" weather radar and will conduct research voyages in the Pacific, Southern and Indian Oceans.

"The new vessel is capable of sailing anywhere from the ice-edge in the south right into the tropics," he said. "It can be at sea up to 50 days at a time."

He says the new radar technology will offer improvements over current equipment comparable to the change from black and white television to colour.

The radar system, which is estimated to weigh 1.75 tonnes, will be used for earth sciences, meteorology and oceanography research activities.

Dr May's expertise is in using high-tech weather radars to monitor cloud systems and, among other activities, he will use the radar on board to research tropical thunderstorms in the region.

"The next-generation technology... gives us a lot additional information on exactly what we're looking at - where there's water, where there's ice, where there's mixtures," he said.

"It will give us new insight into the cloud processes that affect thunderstorms, how thunderstorms are affected by climate, and how they vary from location."

Dr May says it is important to recognise the Investigator will be a research facility, not part of the routine services for looking at severe weather and tropical cyclones.

"This is to provide the underpinning science to help us improve the forecasts and help us better understand the genesis of storms," he said.

The new purpose-built research vessel is under construction in Singapore and Dr May says he anticipates its delivery to Hobart later this year.


© ABC 2013

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