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Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 246


Mr GAYLER —Can the Minister for Science inform the House of the outcome of the international atmospheric experiments recently held in northern Australia? What information will become available to assist communities in the monsoon region?


Mr BARRY JONES —In January and February we held the largest meteorological experiment ever conducted in our region. It was aimed particularly at understanding more about the generation of cyclones in Australia's north. In fact, there were three interconnected projects. I have a new set of acronyms for honourable members-AMEX, STEP and EMEX. AMEX was the Australian monsoon experiment and STEP was the stratosphere-troposphere exchange project. These experiments were conducted to try to understand the interaction between the air that we live in, the troposphere, and the stratosphere, the area above, and how heat is transferred. There are extraordinary new patterns of hot air developing over Kingaroy that need closer investigation. We have also EMEX, which was the equational mesoscale experiment.

There was a very interesting interaction between Australia, the United States and China. From Australia we had the Bureau of Meteorology, Monash University, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Australian Institute of Marine Science; from the United States we had the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and some universities; and, from the People's Republic of China, an oceanographic research vessel was stationed in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I had one memorable night, from 3.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., on 16 January, flying in an Electra in a boustrophedon pathway in and out of storm clouds at varying heights.


Mr Hawke —Like the Leader of the Opposition.


Mr BARRY JONES —Yes, like the Leader of the Opposition now. These experiments lasted over a month and involved between 300 and 400 scientists, technicians, pilots, officers and crew. We believe that we are now in a position to understand much more clearly just how cyclones are generated. We believe that there is evidence of enhanced regional scientific co-operation and greater international awareness of Australia's meteorological research program and capabilities. The Americans are very pleased, the Chinese are delighted and I think it is a major contribution to our understanding of tropical weather.