Winds of Change in METOC Technology

September 21, 2020 – Upgraded weather forecasting technology for Royal Australian Navy meteorologists is getting its first lengthy sea trial during the Regional Presence Deployment 20 (RPD20), offering a boost to capability with quicker and more accurate information.

The role of deployed Meterology and Oceangraphic (METOC) teams is to provide timely advice to Command about the environment’s effect on weapons, platforms, and sensors.

Commander Barbra Parker of the Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit said the upgraded weather forecasting system provided deployed units with a tactical advantage.

“The METOC systems delivered under project SEA1770 have provided a quantum leap forward in capability.

“These systems include a portable weather detection RADAR, a portable weather station and a deployable weather forecasting system matching the capability of a shore based forecasting centre,” Commander Parker said.

The system replaces the dated practice of relying upon public facing open-source information, enhancing the cyber-worthiness of the system as a whole.

The process also ensures that the deployed METOC has access to up to over a week of data at a time, an important factor in strategic and tactical forward planning.

Although the weather forecasting system was first put to use in 2018, work this year at the Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit has seen this capability come into its own.

A robust pipeline through which model data and weather observations could be transmitted to sea in the most efficient format was developed.

The end result was that more information was able to be transmitted to the deployed METOC more reliably while using the same or less data than previous techniques.

The weather forecasting system uses powerful software which allows the forecaster to properly interrogate weather data to the same level as forecasters do ashore.

The system is being utilized by HMAS Canberra and served useful when the ship negotiated rough weather off the coast of Australia in May 2020.

Lieutenant Commander Fiona Simmonds, Canberra’s METOC officer, said the ship was able to avoid the worst of the weather due to the capability of the new system.

“The forecasting system was instrumental in the provision of METOC advice as we could predict the rough weather in our location without relying on shore-based systems.

“Having the data right there at my fingertips meant that the environment could be considered in the planning process in real-time,” Lieutenant Commander Simmonds said.

The capability underpins METOC services to the battle-ready and deployed force, as proven when Canberra sailed with a five-ship Task Group in RPD20.

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