Belgium, the tropics and the Antarctic Treaty System

The 2003–04 austral summer of weather forecasting in the Australian Antarctic Territory was, by all accounts, a very successful blend of international expertise and tropical-based know how! Marc De Keyser from Belgium, and Jane Golding from tropical Darwin, combined to cause one experienced Antarctic practitioner to declare 'Jane Golding and Marc de Keyser are the best forecasters I have ever worked with.'

Marc, who is a Belgian ex-Airforce meteorologist and who has worked with the British Antarctic Survey at Rothera, came to the Bureau's attention when he participated in the first International Symposium on Antarctic Weather Forecasting, which was held in Hobart in 1998. The underlying theme of that symposium was for international collaboration with respect to Antarctic weather forecasting. Accordingly, and in the spirit of part 1(b) of Article III of the Antarctic Treaty (see, for example http://www.scar.org/Treaty/Treaty_Text.htm) that states 'scientific personnel shall be exchanged in Antarctica between expeditions and stations', the Bureau asked Marc to assist at Davis station last summer.

The figure above shows a satellite image of a typical 'blow' that Marc and Jane were required to anticipate in their roles as weather forecasters for the Australian Antarctic Program. The time series plot in the lower right hand corner shows the observations taken from Mawson Station around the time of the storm. The mean surface wind at Mawson exceeded 130 km/hr (70 kts) at the height of the storm, early on 29 September 2003.

Steve Pendlebury, Regional Director, Bureau of Meteorology, Tasmania/Antarctica Region & Neil Adams, Bureau of Meteorology