A satellite image of a cyclone.

Weather and environmental prediction

CSIRO, in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology, is creating systems for predicting Australia's air quality, weather and climate.

  • 8 February 2011 | Updated 11 July 2012

CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology are involved in a partnership known as The Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research.

The partnership brings together expertise in weather and environmental prediction (WEP).

Scientists with this expertise are based at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR) laboratories in Aspendale, Victoria, and Black Mountain, ACT, and at the Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney and Darwin offices of the Bureau.

They develop prediction systems for air quality, weather and climate, particularly for processes occurring from minutes to days to years, and from regional spatial scales down to local scales of tens of metres.

Putting the predictions to work

The prediction systems support the Bureau’s weather services and forecast high impact weather events such as cyclones, severe storms and environmental hazards such as bushfires and air pollutants (smoke, dust, odour and pathogens).

The effects of future development and climate change scenarios on these events are also investigated.

Advanced forecast systems developed in this program are used by the Bureau's forecasters to produce operational weather forecasts and warnings.

The partnership between CSIRO and BOM develops prediction systems for air quality, weather and climate.

Radar applications contribute to water resource management and nowcasting.

Systems and products for routine wind, fog, and volcanic ash forecasting are used in the aviation and renewable energy sectors.

Modelling tools

The Australian Community Climate and Earth-System Simulator (ACCESS) model underpins much of the atmospheric modelling done by this group, along with other tools such as the Conformal-Cubic Atmospheric model (CCAM), The Air Pollution Model (TAPM), and the Chemical Transport Model (CTM).

Modelling systems developed by WEP scientists are used to:

  • make specialised predictions for tropical cyclones, ozone and UV index, and Antarctic weather
  • downscale climate projections to get a better understanding of future regional climate and weather (including extremes)
  • provide weather and wind forecasts for sporting events such as the Olympic Games and the America’s Cup
  • predict the concentrations of chemical pollutants and particulates in urban airsheds
  • simulate wind and solar energy fields for renewable energy prediction
  • develop and test technologies for grid distribution and energy storage.

Ultimately the research leads to more accurate, informative, and timely weather and environmental information for users in government, industry, and the public.

Expertise

  • Synoptic and mesoscale meteorology: understanding the nature of weather events and developing improved techniques for the prediction of high impact weather.
  • Weather forecasting (tools, practices, procedures and user requirements): building advanced tools to assist weather forecasters in providing timely and detailed weather and warning information for the Australian public.
  • Regional scale weather and climate modelling: simulating the detailed weather and climate in the Australian region, Antarctica, and other regions of interest.
  • Dynamic downscaling: translating coarse resolution global weather and climate predictions into fine-scale regional weather and climate fields using a nested modelling approach.
  • Ensemble-based forecasting: deriving probabilistic forecasts and uncertainty estimates based on the output of many model runs, to aid decision makers in the forecast office and weather-sensitive industries.
  • Tracer and chemical transport and dispersion modelling (integrated with observations): applying dispersion and chemical transport models to regional, urban, and local scale air quality issues.
  • Physical, chemical and mathematical sciences: integrating theoretical and empirical science to answer a variety of meteorological questions.
  • Model evaluation, interpretation, and uncertainty estimation: evaluating the accuracy and usefulness of model forecasts through quantitative comparisons with observations, to provide users with information on how to interpret the forecasts.
  • Data visualisation: developing software systems to visualise and interpret complex meteorological information from observations and forecasts in an intuitive and effective way.

Facilities

  • Wind tunnel
  • Bureau-CSIRO High Performance Super Computing and Communications Centre
  • Atmospheric models: ACCESS, CCAM, TAPM, and CTM
  • Weather and Energy Research Unit

Research applications

Capabilities in weather and environment prediction underpin the Bureau’s weather services and deliver research outcomes for CSIRO Climate and Atmosphere and Carbon Sequestration themes and CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, Energy Transformed Flagship and Light Metals Flagship.

Read more about CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.