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Weather forecasting set to improve

Tuesday January 29, 2013 - 09:55 EDT

Australian scientists may soon be able to make better weather predictions.

A new forecasting model is being developed in Tasmania based on information collected by satellites and floating robots from oceans around the world.

The model created by the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Navy, allows scientists to analyse the world's oceans with data collected by NASA satellites and thousands of floating robots.

"This development has taken us from a capability where we've been able to forecast the ocean in the Australian region in our own backyard to forecasting the ocean anywhere in the world," CSIRO scientist Peter Oke said.

The robots and satellites will be used to monitor ocean currents, salinity and temperature.

Until recently only the US, France and the UK had global ocean forecasting capability.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Garry Brassington says scientists expect it will increase Australia's ability to predict and respond to natural disasters.

It will also help mitigate damage from oil spills.

"These kinds of systems provide leading edge information on tracking these kinds of spills," he said.

There are also implications for search and rescue and weather forecasting for major sporting events.

"If we were able to forecast the ocean more accurately then the disaster of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race when there was loss of life could have been avoided," Mr Oke said.

It is a major advantage for the Australian Navy, particularly its submarine fleet.

"If they understand what those environmental parameters are, they can basically hide in the ocean," he said.

For recreational fishers, it may mean even mean more nibbles on the end of the line.

"If a fisherman wants to know where a particular water mass is because they're targeting a particular fish, then this is their answer."

The system is expected to be running nationally by the end of the year.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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