Researchers are developing a smart GPS-based weather prediction system to help reduce the risk and impact of natural disasters.
Severe weather events have caused substantial damage to properties and claimed many lives over the past decade.
The frequency and severity of severe weather events are being amplified by climate change and the world's increased dependence on costly and complex infrastructure.
Professor Kefei Zhang, Director of the RMIT Satellite Positioning for Atmosphere, Climate and Environment (SPACE) Research Centre, is leading the new project.
Professor Zhang is working with a team of scientists in the field of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) meteorology from RMIT, the Bureau of Meteorology, University of Melbourne and the CRC for Spatial Information to tackle the serious issue of weather prediction for natural disasters such as severe storms and flash flooding.
The team recently received a $240,000 grant from the Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme (VIC), funded by the federal National Disaster Resilience Program.
Professor Zhang said the project aimed to develop an unprecedented, smart GPS-based system to help disaster management stakeholders better prepare and determine the best mitigation strategies.
"The system will allow enhanced prediction on the size, severity and timeframe of severe weather events," he said.
"It will use existing scientific infrastructure for a new and innovative end-user application that will result in improved community resilience towards severe weather events.
"Our ability to monitor and predict the development of severe storms - in particular those that have the potential to produce heavy rainfalls - is highly dependent on precise water vapour information.
"The amount of water vapour contained in the troposphere has significant implications in determining the intensity, time and extent of storm activities."
Professor John Le Marshall from the Bureau of Meteorology, who is also an Adjunct Professor at the RMIT SPACE Research Centre, said the research would leverage existing GPSnet infrastructure in conjunction with current conventional and space-based data for meteorological studies.
GPSnet is currently the densest and most advanced state-wide Continuously Operating Reference Station network for high accuracy positioning in Australia.
"The dense distribution of GPSnet stations provides a unique opportunity to use advanced GNSS technology for meteorological studies," Professor Le Marshall said.
"Cutting-edge GNSS meteorology techniques will be used to provide a new GNSS sensor to determine atmospheric water vapour content, in conjunction with currently available atmospheric water vapour observation systems, and to document its impact on atmospheric predictability."
The EU COST Action ES1206 aims to stimulate knowledge transfer and data sharing throughout Europe and address new and improved capabilities from concurrent developments in both GNSS and atmospheric communities, to improve short-range weather forecasts and climate predictions.
One of the large-scale projects in the EU COST Action ES1206 is focusing on Advanced GNSS tropospheric products for monitoring severe weather events and climate. RMIT is the only Australian institution collaborating on the project.
"The collaborative partners in the European research project have expertise, infrastructure and interests in significantly different environmental sciences, which become mutually beneficial in this new RMIT-led research project," Professor Hearne said.
"RMIT's experience in leading multi-disciplinary research projects aimed towards solving real-world challenges and the team's widely ranging skills and expertise will contribute towards the success of this new project."
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