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Antarctic Operational Meteorology



The Past

The Present

The Future




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The Future (continued)

In addition to the automation of observations, the communication and processing of data for assimilation in real time into atmospheric modelling systems and the space and time resolution of such schemes themselves are likely to improve rapidly as computer technology evolution continues with few apparent limitations. In particular, new models designed to analyse and predict conditions for limited local areas are being developed. For example, the Limited Area Prediction System (LAPS) developed in the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre (Puri et al 1996) is being adapted for high latitude use by the Bureau of Meteorology's Tasmania Antarctica Regional Office and the Antarctic Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) at the University of Tasmania. Figure 23 shows an example of a LAPS forecast developed for a limited area of the AAT.

Medium resolution limited domain forecast

Figure 23 An example of a medium resolution limited domain forecast for a region centred on the Amery Iceshelf Antarctica for 1100 UTC 3 October 1996 using the Limited Area Prediction System (LAPS). The photo shows wind vectors at approximately 75 metres (source Neil Adams, Bureau of Meteorology and Antarctic CRC).

The human element will not, however, be entirely lost as eventually the products of all automatic equipment have to be interpreted by the experienced scientist and technician who will hopefully continue to remain in control. The days of the explorer plodding across the ice-cap recording meteorological data and dispatching it to the outside world are rapidly becoming a thing of the past; nevertheless even with all the technology a helicopter flying to a remote site will still need "a person on the ground" to provide a visual report on local conditions if full safety is to be preserved.

Meteorological staff will continue to be part of ANARE as they have for the past 50 years. However, they may be fewer and will require to have different training and experience. More effort will be Australia based. It is to be hoped however that the wonder and beauty of Antarctic weather will still be personally experienced by the meteorologists of the future and that the data collected will continue to provide, in their own way, the basis for research studies, for analyses of weather and climate and for operational services to those on the continent and those "outside".


The author wishes to express his appreciation to his many colleagues in the Bureau of Meteorology who have assisted in the preparation of this paper in particular Hugh Hutchinson, Steve Pendlebury, Neil Adams and Kieran Jacka in the Tasmania Antarctica Regional Office and to Frank Whitby, Esther Amott, Bernie Stokes and most importantly to Debbie Dowel of the Bureau's Head Office in Melbourne.

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Streten, N. A. 1997 'Antarctic Operational Meteorology,' ANARE Jubilee Science Symposium (in press).

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