Users of the vast ocean areas around Australia will be able to obtain broad-scale information on ocean currents, temperature and salinity for the first time following today's launch of BLUElink - a new ocean forecast system.
BLUElink provides a seven-day forecast of sea temperature, salinity and currents reflecting the complex movement of Australia's offshore and coastal waters.
Bluelink has been developed by CSIRO through its Wealth from Oceans Flagship, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Royal Australian Navy.
The inner working of the ocean has long been a part of the weather and climate puzzle for scientists. Understanding the ocean is also vital for ensuring safety at sea, disaster mitigation, marine and offshore operations, marine environmental management, the fishing industry and for defence operations.
Appreciating the behaviour and circulation of Australia's oceans and seas has previously been restricted by the availability of ocean measurements, inadequate scientific understanding and modelling capabilities, and the ability to process large amounts of data.
This has all changed with today's launch of BLUElink.
CSIRO - through the Wealth from Oceans Flagship - and the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre have collaborated to provide the scientific intelligence for the BLUElink project. Together, the two agencies also operate the High-Performance Computing and Communications Centre that provides the essential computational power needed to run the ocean forecasting system. The Royal Australian Navy has provided an important national security perspective and is a significant end user of the ocean forecast products generated by BLUElink.
The ability to forecast ocean conditions has been greatly improved by the long-term investment in ocean monitoring technology and by Australia's participation in satellite science missions and the deployment of specialist monitoring instruments.
Thanks to technology, the understanding and measuring of the influences on ocean behaviour are making rapid progress. This has been brought about by:
- Access to immensely powerful computer networks able to synthesise and process vast volumes of data describing physical ocean conditions.
- Ocean observing satellites tracking sea level, sea surface temperature, and wind.
- Technological advances in the development of free-drifting robotic Argo ocean profilers, observing the upper two kilometres of the ocean in the same way as weather balloons observe atmospheric conditions.
In the same way that weather prediction relies on access to accurate observations of the atmosphere, BLUElink depends on access to a range of oceanic observations (surface winds, temperature, sea level, ocean currents, and sub-surface temperature and salinity). To be useful to the forecasting system the data must be obtained and processed in close to real time to ensure best performance of the model.
BLUElink provides the core of an extended oceanographic service for Australia, in which the ocean model, data assimilation and prediction system maintain up-to-date analyses and predictions of the state of the ocean. Daily high-resolution analyses and twice-weekly forecasts are generated incorporating the latest changes in the weather and ocean, particularly in extreme conditions such as tropical cyclones.