New portable weather stations will improve fire intelligence

Released 01/02/2017

The ACT Parks and Conservation Service has purchased four new portable automated weather stations to accurately measure the level of fire danger during the bushfire season, and to improve monitoring for prescribed burns, Manager, Fire, Forests and Roads at ACT Parks and Conservation, Neil Cooper, said.

“The new location-specific weather information will improve fire-fighter and public safety,” Mr Cooper said.

“The portable weather stations record temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction but they also have sensors to record solar radiation, soil temperature, soil moisture and fuel moisture.

“Accurate real-time readings of local weather in additional locations around the ACT will provide better information to fire agencies on potential fire behaviour during the bushfire season.

“In addition,  fuel information provides drying trends for fuels, which forms an important part of determining when conditions are appropriate for prescribed burning,” Mr Cooper said.

Data from these new ACT Parks weather stations is recorded and transmitted through the 3G and 4G mobile phone networks and by satellite to the Bureau of Meteorology. This real-time weather will then be available to other fire organisations such as the ACT Emergency Services Authority and the NSW Rural Fire Service.

The portable units will be installed at a range of suitable geographic locations in and around the ACT, to give a broader and better understanding of weather conditions in the region, and how these weather conditions may affect on-ground activities.

“As the stations are portable, they can be transported by helicopter to remote sites in the ACT and used for short campaign deployment as well as longer seasonal deployment,” Mr Cooper said.

Information from the new stations will complement weather data from the Bureau of Meteorology’s existing automated weather stations at Mt Ginini, Tuggeranong and Canberra Airport.

The new weather stations come from a Canadian Supplier, Forest Technology Systems, which supplies Canada and the U.S. Forest Service with specialised weather instruments for deployment in rugged locations.

Queensland, Victorian and NSW Fire agencies have also purchased similar weather stations for improving fire-weather related information.

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Section: ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate | Media Releases

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