A day to acknowledge the weather warriors

World Meteorological Day, today, provides an opportunity to applaud the ADF’s ‘weather warriors’.

CAPTION: Meteorologist and oceanographer Lieutenant Commander Fiona Simmonds uses an anemometer to measure wind speed aboard HMAS Canberra in Jervis Bay.

They are the meteorologists and oceanographers who provide forecasts of weather and sea conditions, briefs, data and tactical advice in support of ADF exercises and operations.

Navy meteorologist and oceanographer (METOC) in HMAS Canberra Lieutenant Commander Fiona Simmonds said she enjoyed the job and her floating office.

“I love being on the sea and the weather has such an impact on what’s going on around me,” Lieutenant Commander Simmonds said.

Canberra, an amphibious assault ship known as a landing helicopter dock (LHD), can embark 18 helicopters, 110 vehicles, 12 Abrams main battle tanks and four landing craft.

A METOC’s main role on an LHD is to provide detailed forecasts for aviation and warfare.

“For warfare, I am looking at a broad picture in the present and into the future, both above and below the water,” Lieutenant Commander Simmonds said.

“For aviation, my focus is on the weather conditions directly affecting the ship and aircraft in the present and near future.

“Maintaining a high level of accuracy allows our aviators to fly safely in a wider range of conditions.”

Radar and satellites have revolutionised meteorology and oceanography, but an embarked METOC still uses  traditional tools to collect weather data and advanced analysis skills to develop a forecast for remote ocean areas.

“If we are at sea far from land-based weather stations, I can launch a weather balloon to collect precise atmospheric data such air pressure, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction,” Lieutenant Commander Simmonds said.

Another tool Lieutenant Commander Simmonds uses to record wind speed is a handheld anemometer.

World Meteorological Day is held on the anniversary of the establishment of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on March 23, 1950.

The WMO is a United Nations agency and is dedicated to international cooperation and coordination on weather and climate.

All Navy METOCs complete a Graduate Diploma in Meteorology through the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre, a qualification recognised by the WMO.

This year’s World Meteorological Day theme is: The Ocean, our climate and weather.





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