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Opening of $8m Willis Island weather station

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A new $8 million weather station at Willis Island in North Queensland will play a key role in tracking cyclones and also help in the detection of climate change. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, and Federal Member for Herbert, Peter Lindsay, formally commissioned the new facility at a ceremony in Townsville today. Mr Hunt said the new off-shore station replaced an ageing facility which dated back to the early 1950s. “Willis Island Meteorological Office is one of the Bureau of Meteorology’s most remote, yet important field offices,” Mr Hunt said. “Located about 450 kilometres north east of Townsville, it is one of a select group of stations worldwide that will provide data for monitoring large scale climatic phenomena such as climate change. “The new facility has recently been confirmed as one of some 160 stations included in the Global Climate Observing System Upper Air Network. “The replacement of the Willis Island field office required the transportation of building materials and workers over a large expanse of ocean. Vital meteorological equipment, including a weather watch radar and balloon launching facilities, were also shipped in. “The project is part of the Federal Government’s $19.8 million 2005-06 Budget announcement to rebuild 12 field offices over six years. I want to pay particular tribute to Mr Lindsay for his efforts in supporting the investment in the new facility.” Mr Lindsay said Willis Island would build on a proud history in charting vital weather patterns for not only the local community, but to the world. “The island has provided an important frontline warning capability for tropical cyclones approaching North East Queensland and has been particularly valuable for coastal communities,” Mr Lindsay said. “It is terrific to see that the new centre will play a key role in the international climatic scene as well. “This is a demonstration of the quality of science being produced here in North Queensland. “The new weather radar at the field office will take over from a temporary radar that was installed on the island and provided Bureau forecasters with vital imagery of Tropical Cyclone Larry.” The Bureau of Meteorology deploys three observers and one engineering technician to Willis Island for periods of six months. Imagery from the Bureau's network of weather radars, including data from the Willis Island radar, is available on the Bureau web site