Inherent in its vision and mission, the Bureau has a responsibility to the Australian community to support a safe, prosperous, secure and healthy Australia. The Bureau’s focus is on providing trusted, reliable and responsive weather, water, climate and ocean services that benefit the Australian community and drive competitive advantage for business and industry.
The Bureau is accountable to the Australian Government for fulfilling its legislative mandate with the resources invested in it, but is ultimately answerable to the Australian community. Under the Meteorology Act 1955, the Bureau performs its functions largely in the public interest as well as for sectors such as defence, shipping and aviation, and in support of primary production, industry, trade and commerce.
Throughout 2019–20, the Bureau continued to provide the warnings, forecasts, information and advice on which Australians depend—providing round-the-clock services to support informed decision-making by governments, emergency services, industry and the community. These services are becoming even more important as Australians become increasingly vulnerable to a range of severe weather events, due to changes in population, settlement patterns and the growth of infrastructure.
The Bureau’s services are particularly crucial when conditions are extreme. The organisation has upheld its duty to assist Australians to better manage the impacts of their natural environment, including drought, floods, fires, storms, tsunamis and tropical cyclones. The Bureau’s warnings and advice to the emergency services support essential decision-making when people and property are under threat.
In fulfilling its duties, the Bureau remains committed to:
providing the best possible information about Australia’s weather, climate, water, oceans and space weather;
providing timely information to allow planning and response to impending critical events;
presenting information clearly, using plain English and easy-to-understand graphics, and making it accessible to vulnerable communities;
meeting increasing user expectations by incorporating relevant advances in science and technology, and enhancing its products and services in line with community needs;
identifying any limitations in its products and services, and providing information regarding the source, reliability, completeness and currency of any data supplied; and
notifying users of service changes and interruptions at the earliest opportunity.
Throughout 2019–20, Bureau outreach was largely undertaken through the seven State and Territory offices (covering the five mainland States, the Northern Territory, and Tasmania and Antarctica). Each office was responsible for the day-to-day delivery of forecast and warning services to their respective communities, working in tandem with State and local governments and emergency service agencies as part of the emergency management and disaster mitigation networks in their respective jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, the Bureau has embedded forecasters within emergency management centres to provide personal interaction and quick access to the Bureau’s expertise and specialisation in severe weather.
State and Territory offices also worked closely with the media to ensure that communication with the general public is effective and that warnings are broadcast widely. Staff interact with a broad range of stakeholders and users, and provide a focal point for the delivery of services to local industry and government customers, supporting the Bureau’s sectoral leaders in providing high-quality solutions.
Because Australia’s climate varies greatly throughout the States and Territories (see table below) and can differ significantly from one year to the next, the value of weather and climate information is enhanced by local experts who have the knowledge and relationships to help users interpret information effectively.
The meteorology of Queensland extends from the deep tropics through to temperate and arid regimes, and encompasses coastal waters that include the Great Barrier Reef, the Torres Strait Islands and the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria. The large and dispersed population is vulnerable to risks posed by tropical cyclones, flooding, severe thunderstorms and bushfires. The State’s strong agricultural sector grapples with droughts and other broadscale impacts of climate.
New South Wales
The diversity of New South Wales’ weather and climate reflects its many landscapes; from the highest alpine areas in Australia to some of the country’s most productive agricultural areas. New South Wales is often affected by heatwaves, drought, bushfires, intense coastal storm systems, severe thunderstorms and hailstorms. Weather on the coastal strip is influenced by the steep coastal escarpment and ranges, which accentuate heavy rains and bring major flooding to coastal rivers.
Victoria is renowned for its very changeable and challenging weather events. These include heatwaves, extreme fire weather, and the effects of bushfire smoke in summer; damaging winds from winter storms; and rain, severe thunderstorms, and floods in all seasons. Victoria is also vulnerable to thunderstorm asthma events, when the right weather conditions and fine grass pollen can combine to cause acute asthma episodes.
Tasmania’s location in the path of the ‘roaring forties’ westerly wind belt brings heavy and reliable rain to the western half of the island and much warmer and drier conditions to the sheltered east coast. Snow can fall any time of year in the highlands, but summer heatwaves and windy weather fronts bring dangerous fire conditions to the east and south.
The climatic and hazardous weather conditions of greatest concern to South Australia include bushfires, thunderstorms with local hail and flooding, drought, gales and periods of extreme heat.
Western Australia is susceptible to a wide range of severe weather events all year round. The warmer months are characterised by heavy rain, tropical lows and cyclones in the north, and extreme heat and bushfires in the south. During the cooler months, bushfires occur in the north while cold fronts with destructive winds and heavy rain are common in the south.
The Top End of Australia has a tropical climate characterised by a wet season from October to April and a dry season from May to September. At different times of the year, parts of the Northern Territory experience severe thunderstorms, wildfires and widespread flooding. All coastal areas are subject to tropical cyclone landfall.
Helping the community respond to extreme weather in New South Wales
With a season of catastrophic weather, drought, dust storms, cyclones, hailstorms and severe floods, the past year has been notable in New South Wales for its variety and extremity of weather, as well as for the dedication of Bureau staff and the strong and effective working relationships with response agencies and communities.
An exceptionally warm and dry winter with 95 per cent of the State in drought set the scene for extreme weather to follow. Spring and the first half of summer were marked by heat, fires, smoke, reduced air quality and windstorms. The tone shifted during the second half of summer to severe storms, floods and tropical cyclones.
The breadth of weather experienced across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory included:
fires and smoke which had devastating impacts on life and property up and down the coast and ranges;
wind and hailstorms, with storms in Sydney in October leaving some areas without power for days;
a devastating hailstorm across Canberra in January that caused an estimated $500 million in damage;
widespread flooding following rain in February as the Hawkesbury and Georges rivers saw the largest floods in a generation; and
destructive winds on Lord Howe Island in February from tropical cyclone Uesi with a 154 km/h gust recorded.
Public education and social engagement
Helping Australians understand and use its products and services is one of the Bureau’s core responsibilities under the Meteorology Act. The goal is to give Australians timely weather, water, climate and ocean information, education and updates across a range of channels, particularly when conditions put lives and property in danger.
The early onset of the severe weather season during 2019–20 led to increased communications activity. The Bureau responded to over 14 000 media enquiries, issued more than 600 media releases and published over 10 000 posts, videos, and Instagram stories. Special resources and support was given to Indigenous media outlets to assist them in communicating severe weather events.
Australia's Black Summer stretched many elements of the Bureau's operations, including its public information capacity. During the fires, State and Territory Media teams increased the reach and engagement of public safety messaging including through more than 100 media conferences, 130 video and audio news releases, 5000 interviews and media responses, and continuous social media posts. The delivery of the continuous weather narrative across multiple channels ensured that the communities were continually updated on the very latest conditions.
Throughout the year, the Bureau's social media channels proved especially effective for promoting public-safety campaigns on the risks and impact of severe weather, and improving access to science through the AskBOM community engagement posts. The opportunity for community members to engage directly with Bureau experts through webinars was well received, as was the use of more creative formats to tell the weather narrative on Instagram and Facebook.
The Bureau also supported the community in understanding and responding to weather and related phenomena, including through its Weather Connect customer service centre and information emails to subscribers.
The Bureau had an increasing number of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and its blog. Instagram, which the Bureau has been active on since February 2017, continued to attract interest, with the audience base doubling in 2019–20 driven by beautiful imagery and explanations of weather science.
Weather forecast for major sporting events
The Victorian State Office provided critical information in support of major events across the State, most notably in January as two senior meteorologists worked on-site throughout the Australian Open tennis tournament. The expert weather information provided helped officials make critical decisions about stadium roof closures and player and public safety as smoke from an active fire season frequently threatened the event.
The Victorian office has also been proactive in delivering briefings for other major events such as the AFL Grand Final and the Spring Racing Carnival. These initiatives are aimed at developing new relationships with some of Australia's major sporting bodies and local authorities managing health and safety in large crowds.
Stakeholder participation and feedback
Third-party participation in the Bureau’s policy formulation and service provision is facilitated through:
the Australia–New Zealand Emergency Management Committee and its working subcommittees (Community Outcomes and Recovery; and Mitigation and Risk) and related groups including the Australian Tsunami Advisory Group; the National Flood Risk Advisory Group; the Australian Tropical Cyclone Advisory Group; and the National Heatwave Working Group;
AFAC (the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council);
the Bureau of Meteorology Hazards Services Forum;
the Jurisdictional Reference Group on Water Information;
State and Territory consultative committees for flood, marine, agriculture and climate;
consultative meetings with private meteorological service providers, the aviation industry and Defence;
State, Territory and local government emergency management and disaster mitigation committees; and
Australia's agricultural research and development corporations, regional farming groups, natural resource management organisations, major agribusiness, State and Territory Governments, and representative bodies such as the National Farmers’ Federation.
The Bureau uses a range of surveys and feedback mechanisms to ensure its products and services meet the growing needs of its customers. In 2019–20, the Bureau monitored and evaluated feedback from general community and emergency management customers and partners, focusing on the four performance areas of preference, experience, impact and reputation.
Four community surveys were undertaken in September, December, March and June, helping to identify areas for improvement and inform service development. Overall performance was largely consistent across the year and with the previous year's results. Brand reputation and experience were highly rated, while there remain opportunities to increase the Bureau’s nomination as the preferred source for weather forecasts and warnings. The surveys found that almost all users say the Bureau’s forecast services (98 per cent) or warning services (97 per cent) are at least meeting their needs or better, but only 61 per cent of customers were aware of Bureau warnings and took precautions or actions as a result.
A survey of emergency management customers and partners was undertaken in May. Performance remained strong overall, although results were somewhat lower than the previous year, most likely due to differences in sample composition. The survey found that 80 per cent of customers and partners who used the Bureau's services in the past month said that service helped them do what they needed to do to a 'great' or 'very great' extent, compared with 83 per cent the previous year.
The Bureau uses the net promoter score index (ranging from -100 to +100) as a way of gauging the willingness of its customers to recommend products or services to others. In 2019−20, the Bureau achieved an average net promoter score of +54 from community customers and +61 from emergency management customers and partners. These results indicate a high level of satisfaction and customer loyalty. More survey results are included in the performance section of the Annual Report.
The Bureau also conducted an online survey on the use of weather information for snow-based activities for the duration of the 2019 snow season. The survey received an enthusiastic response with 763 surveys completed, many and with rich details from participants, highlighting the passion this customer group has for the weather. One of the findings was a strong desire to include Tasmanian weather information in the Bureau's 'alpine' section of the website, which has been implemented following the survey. Many of the other ideas and suggestions will drive improvements to snow services in as the Bureau builds its new Bureau website.
The Bureau regularly invites feedback, including suggestions and complaints from its customers. A total of 6375 messages were logged through the Bureau’s website feedback facility, of which 469 were classified as criticism and 80 messages were classified as praise. All feedback was directed to the appropriate area for response and resolution.
The Bureau’s online research community now has 6585 registered testers—up from 6157 in June 2019. BOMIdeas hosts online surveys and activities that allow these registered testers and other customers to provide feedback on potential service enhancements.
International cooperation is an essential and integral part of the Bureau’s operations. Through reciprocal relationships and knowledge-sharing with countries and agencies around the globe the Bureau leverages scientific expertise and technological and operational developments, and collects and exchanges information critical for monitoring and predicting the state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere.
The Bureau is deeply engaged in international activities that provide direct and indirect benefits to the organisation and to the broader Australian and international community. Through these activities, the Bureau continues to build its profile and reputation, foster goodwill with key partners and strengthen its skills, capabilities and knowledge base.
In 2019–20, the Bureau made important contributions to the activities of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and has maintained strong representation in key positions that help ensure Australia’s interests are considered in policy development and decision-making. It also met its obligations under international treaties and agreements including the provision of aeronautical meteorological services on behalf of Australia as the designated authority under the International Civil Aviation Organization. As Australia's representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the Bureau continued to engage with and represent the interests of Australian marine science stakeholders.
The Bureau has formal bilateral agreements with 11 overseas agencies and actively cooperates across a wide range of subject areas with countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. These collaborations focus on mutual and complementary fields of technical and scientific expertise.
Australian aid-funded capacity development programs represent a significant component of the Bureau’s international activities and the Bureau has a long history of supporting counterpart meteorological and hydrological services in the Pacific. These engagements strengthen organisational capabilities and skills and contribute to broader whole-of-government objectives. An important part of this work is the Bureau’s involvement in the Australian Government–funded Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific—a foundational climate information services sub-program of the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership. Other aid-funded activities have included capacity building work with Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa.
Supporting a resilient Pacific–providing climate information for community action
The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac2) operates across 14 Pacific Island countries and involves adding to the long-term Pacific sea level data record; archiving and managing meteorological data and producing sector-specific information; seasonal climate and ocean monitoring and prediction services; and communications, training and capacity development. COSPPac2 is supporting Pacific Island stakeholders to use climate, ocean, and sea level information to strengthen climate and disaster resilience.
A highlight of 2019–20 was supporting Pacific national meteorological services to produce monthly national Early Action Rainfall (EAR) Watch bulletins to better communicate seasonal outlooks to climate-vulnerable communities. National EAR Watches are now produced monthly in eight countries, (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu), providing information to help governments and communities respond to periods of prolonged dry or wet conditions.
Building on the success of COSPPac, the Green Climate Fund–sponsored Vanuatu Climate Information Services Resilient Development Program has been improving the currency and functionality of climate data records for Vanuatu. Climate Information Services are being strengthened for target end-users with the development of new impact-based seasonal forecasts .
In partnership with the WMO and the Papua New Guinea National Weather Service, the Bureau is contributing to a Weather and Climate Early Warning System for Papua New Guinea to increase its capacity for generating effective, impact-based, multi-hazard warnings to protect lives, livelihoods and assets.
Diversity and inclusion
The Bureau strives to be the model of an inclusive culture where diversity of thought and background is valued to provide better outcomes for staff, customers and the community. Success is based on creating an inclusive environment where people feel respected and valued, share a sense of fairness and of belonging, and are encouraged to make a unique and meaningful contribution.
The Bureau values the diversity of its staff, respecting differences that include—but are not limited to—gender, ethnicity, religion, age, ability or disability, sexual orientation, language, skills, experience, education, industry sector and thinking approaches.
The Bureau brings its commitment to life by:
developing and promoting an equitable, respectful and inclusive workplace culture where staff are engaged, are valued for their uniqueness and feel like they belong;
bringing together people with different backgrounds and ways of thinking, which helps to drive better decision-making, innovation and overall performance;
ensuring recruitment from the broadest talent pool that reflects the Bureau’s customers and communities with which it works; and
supporting the use of flexible work arrangements at all levels to enable staff to balance their personal and professional commitments.
The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 is Australia’s overarching framework for disability reform. It acts to ensure the principles underpinning the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are incorporated into Australia’s policies and programs that affect people with disability, their families and carers.
All levels of government will continue to be held accountable for the implementation of the strategy through biennial progress reporting to the Council of Australian Governments. Progress reports can be found at www.dss.gov.au. Disability reporting is included in the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the Australian Public Service (APS) Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au
The Bureau supports a safe, inclusive and respectful work culture that reflects the diversity of the community it services. It operates within the context of Australia being a signatory to the seven key human rights treaties, with human rights being protected and promoted through domestic legislation, policies, practices and independent bodies. The Bureau undertakes a range of activities to meet this commitment, including:
promoting APS Values, Code of Conduct and Employment Principles, and awareness of workplace discrimination and Closing the Gap, through communication with staff, training, and induction packages for new employees;
endorsing the Public Interest Disclosure Framework, through communication with staff, training and supporting policy documents;
providing an online training course entitled Accountable and Ethical Decision Making;
delivering shared culture workshops and information sessions for managers covering the APS employment framework and key messages from the publication Respect: Promoting a culture free from harassment and bullying in the APS;
providing employees with access to information on ethical standards via the intranet, and also through the APS Commission’s website;
issuing APS Code of Conduct guidelines for Bureau staff, and providing guidance and policies with respect to duty of care, making public comment and the performance of outside work/ employment;
initiating disciplinary processes, including counselling and investigations when allegations relating to breaches of the APS Code of Conduct were reported;
making available a review-of-action process, as provided for in section 33 of the Public Service Act 1999, to aggrieved employees; and
initiating investigation processes into disclosures received under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.
Supporting sustainable development
The Bureau recognises the opportunity and privilege it has to support sustainable development in Australia and beyond, contributing to prosperous, fair, healthy and sustainable communities. Both in the way it conducts its operations, and in the vast array of products and services it provides for the community, the Bureau’s work supports Australia’s commitment to the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Throughout 2019–20, the work of the Bureau has contributed to 15 of the 17 goals (all except SGD 1 and 16).
2. Zero hunger
– help graziers and horticulturalists determine optimum crops, timing around planting and harvesting, fertilisation and chemical spraying
– help meat and livestock farmers control stocking rates, and pre-empt health issues in livestock
– alert farmers to conditions such as frost, hail, storms and floods
– support irrigation and water restocking strategies
– support government drought assistance programs
3. Good health and well-being
– help Australians protect themselves from cyclones, floods, severe storms and bushfires
– support authorities in making evacuation decisions to get people at risk to safety
– help Australians avoid dangerous ultraviolet (UV) exposure, to protect against skin cancer
– help protect vulnerable Australians against heat exhaustion and extreme cold
– alert health authorities to periods of heightened demand
– help Australians plan their sporting and outdoor activities
– support management of biohazards, airborne allergens and diseases
4. Quality education
– provide quality education in meteorology including capacity building in neighbouring countries
– help the community understand Australia’s weather, ocean and climate-related risks
– contribute to the global knowledge base in the meteorological sciences and contribute to cutting-edge developments
– promote ongoing learning and development for Bureau staff
5. Gender equality
– promote gender equality through implementation of the Gender Equality Action Plan
– provide family-friendly working conditions including flexible working options for all staff
– provide training and development to managers on inclusive leadership and unconscious bias
6. Clean water and sanitation
– help governments and water authorities in planning and water management
– aid decision-making in water supply and the management of water allocations and rights
– support dam management and the protection of water and sanitation infrastructure, particularly during severe weather events
– inform the design of new water infrastructure
7. Affordable and clean energy
– enable the Australian energy market to forecast power demand, particularly during heat and cold extremes
– support renewable energy generation by informing production potential and energy output estimates
– support operations and efficiency in Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry
– support improved planning and mitigation of disrupted electricity supply due to severe weather events
– invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within the Bureau's property portfolio
8. Decent work and economic growth
– provide economic benefits in the order of 11.6:1 (for every dollar spent by the Bureau on delivering services, there is a return of $11.60 to the Australian economy)
– support economic growth in key sectors (see Goal 9)
– provide good employment opportunities for Bureau staff
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
– support safe and efficient air travel in Australian airspace, inform routing and fuel load decisions and help protect aircraft from volcanic ash
– help businesses manage the impact of weather on their operations and minimise disruption from severe weather events
– provide valuable information to the financial and insurance services sector
– support the construction of climate-appropriate infrastructure and help protect infrastructure from weather and climate-related events
– provide information products as a basis for innovation and value-adding by industry
10. Reduced inequalities
– provide consistent, comprehensive services for all Australians, including in rural and remote areas
– promote Australian Indigenous culture through the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website and support reconciliation through the Reconciliation Action Plan
– implement initiatives that promote Diversity and Inclusion
– support capacity building and development of Pacific Island nations to manage severe weather impacts and mitigate climate change
– assist Pacific and Indian Ocean countries prepare for and respond to tsunamis
11. Sustainable cities and communities
– support the emergency services in carrying out effective emergency and disaster preparation, response and recovery
– warn communities to prepare for hazardous weather events, to protect housing and community infrastructure, and to make timely evacuations
– allow emergency services to pre-position personnel and equipment to minimise infrastructure damage and to restore essential services following an emergency
– help communities to organise their activities and daily commute
– support management of public and private green spaces
12. Responsible consumption and production
– implement a Bureau environmental framework to minimise the effect of operations on the environment
– support responsible purchasing policies, efficient use of natural resources, and the management of chemicals and wastes through their lifecycle
13. Climate action
– help Australians understand the nation’s climate patterns, trends and variations in climate, and climate-related risks
– provide climate research, modelling and forecasting to support policy decisions and mitigation strategies
– help Pacific Island nations measure and respond to climate change impacts
14. Life below water
– support marine management including sustainable fishing and aquaculture
– support safety at sea and inform search and rescue operations
– support response to ocean environmental incidents (such as oil spills)
– implement changes to the Bureau's balloon program to reduce the likelihood of ingestion by marine birds and turtles
15. Life on land
– support the management of ecosystems
– support bushfire mitigation including controlled burns
– institute ecological protection measures for Bureau operations at environmentally sensitive sites
17. Partnerships for the goals
– contribute to the activities of the World Meteorological Organization, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, and the International Civil Aviation Organization
– collaborate with 11 overseas agencies through bilateral agreements
– partner with local, regional, State and Territory and national emergency management authorities
The Bureau also supports the principles of ecological sustainable development as outlined in the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The broad range of Bureau products, services and advice empower stakeholders to make informed decisions on matters of ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, both now and for the future.
The Bureau is committed to environmentally sustainable practices and the management of impacts from its activities, with the pursuit of a high level of environmental sustainability an aspect of the Bureau’s Strategy. The Bureau’s approach to environmental management is based on the principles of addressing the whole-of-life impact of the property portfolio, managing the unique challenges associated with operations, and efficient use of resources including carbon emission reduction.
Achieving a sustainable estate
The Bureau's operations are diverse, encompassing land, water, atmosphere and oceans across Australia and its external territories. 2019–20 saw a focus on protecting sensitive marine environs, with multiple permits sought and achieved for operations in marine parks and an uplift in biosecurity controls to prevent the spread of invasive plant species when visiting Bureau infrastructure on islands. Site-specific environmental management plans were also developed for project works at sites with known environmental sensitivities, ranging from building works at Willis Island in the Coral Sea, to automatic weather station relocations at mainland airports.
Organisational demand on natural resource comes in many forms at the Bureau, from general office activities to waste generation, equipment and instrument use through to the transport of goods. The Bureau aims to incorporate sustainability into procurement practices to avoid unnecessary consumption and minimise the environmental impact of goods and services over whole-of-life.
Key highlights for the Bureau in 2019–20 were:
working with building owners at the Collins Street Office to introduce or improve the introduction of multiple new recycling streams, including stationery;
following the success of the Laverton solar pilot, which generated 36 MWh or nearly 30 per cent of annual power usage, the installation of solar power generation systems was extended to the new Rainbow radar; and
the Melbourne Collins Street Office received a six-star NABERS energy rating, reflecting energy efficiency measures such as LED fittings with integrated motion and dimming sensors throughout the tenancy.
Total purchased electricity (kWh)
14 246 700
15 768 500
Purchased electricity consumption offices (kWh)
Purchased electricity consumption data centres (kWh)
Purchased electricity consumption other sites (kWh)
Scope 2 emissions from electricity use (tonnes CO2 equivalent)
Vehicle fleet *
Total number of fleet vehicles
Total distance travelled (km)
Total fuel purchased (kL)
Average consumption of fleet vehicles (L/100km)
Emissions from leased vehicle fleet (tonnes CO2 equivalent)
Total number of flights
Total distance travelled (km)
15 559 219
10 565 813
Emissions from air travel (tonnes CO2 equivalent)
Planet-friendly stationery purchased
* the vehicle fleet data is for the Fringe Benefit Tax year period, 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020
Note: Some values are estimated due to incomplete billing cycles at time of publication.
Reducing operational impact
Weather balloons are a critical component of the Bureau's observational program but have the potential to cause adverse effects as plastics and other materials enter the environment. In its attempts to address these issues, the Bureau made two major breakthroughs in 2019–20, leading to changes in its upper air operations that reduce the environment impact of atmospheric monitoring
Following a trial in 2018–19 and based on advice from leading marine researchers, the use of marine life-friendly, blue balloons became operational at three Bureau sites and are now being deployed around the country. In February, the Bureau commenced the use of biodegradable parachutes that are used to slow the descent of the burst balloon at some sites. The new parachutes are made of polybutylene succinate, a biodegradable polymer resin that breaks down into water and carbon dioxide.
The Bureau remains committed to addressing the impact of its operations, and will continue to work with suppliers into the future to actively improve environmental outcomes associated with observational practices.
The Bureau has a demonstrated commitment to record and preserve significant parts of its own history in delivering meteorological services to Australia. The heritage values associated with sites owned or controlled by the Bureau is quite broad. Some sites have long-term associations with weather and meteorology, some sites are places of first use of significant technology such as radar, while others were key to major meteorological events.
The Bureau's heritage strategy is based on Commonwealth heritage management principles, and establishes processes for the identification and assessment of heritage values of sites owned or controlled by the Bureau. In keeping with this strategy, heritage considerations are incorporated into the due diligence associated at site works. This includes at Giles Weather Station, where heritage conservation is incorporated into the operation and maintenance of the original buildings from 1956.