Major upgrade for Australia’s space weather forecasting network

Enormous white swirling cloud formation in Earth's outer atmosphere (space weather forecasting)
Image: Shutterstock

The most significant upgrade to Australia’s space weather forecasting network is underway with the works completed at the Bureau of Meteorology’s Townsville ionosonde site.

The work at the Townsville site is the first of 10 upgrades to be delivered on the Bureau’s ionosonde network across Australia.

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An ionosonde is a high-frequency radar that sends short pulses of radio energy into the ionosphere (the invisible line where Earth’s atmosphere meets space). The information collected is used to identify key variations in the ionosphere and understand the potential impacts to high frequency radio communication services or operations.

The upgrades to Australia’s ionosonde network will provide more resilient, secure and reliable observations for space weather.

Space weather forecasts and observations conducted by the Bureau are crucial to the operations of Australia’s space, aviation, energy, defence and telecommunications industries. The Bureau’s information assists these industries in assessing their exposure to risks to their operations from potential space weather conditions.

Additionally, Australia’s location in the Southern Hemisphere, combined with clear skies, low noise and low light interference means it is uniquely placed to contribute to the international space community.

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The work on the Townsville ionosonde is complete and the upgrades to all the ionosondes will be rolled out over the next two years.

The Bureau has ionosondes in Townsville; Bribie Island; Canberra; Cocos Islands; Hobart; Norfolk Island; Perth; Niue; and Casey and Mawson, Antarctica.