|Headquarters||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Website||Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited|
Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited (MetService) was established as a state-owned enterprise in 1992. It employs about 215 staff and its headquarters are in Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to becoming an SOE, New Zealand's national meteorological service has existed in a number of forms since the appointment of the country's first Director of Meteorological Stations in August 1861.
As New Zealand's national meteorological service, MetService produces and issues forecasts and official weather warnings on behalf of New Zealand's Ministry of Transport and is certified by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.
International media, aviation and energy business is conducted under the MetraWeather brand.
MetService has been certified to the ISO 9001 standard since November 1995.
The weather forecasting service began in 1861, when a spate of shipwrecks prompted the Government to start a storm warning service as part of the then Marine Department.
Forecasting remained a marine service until 1926, when it became part of the newly formed Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. At the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, forecasting became part of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The focus on aviation continued with a move in 1964 to the then Department of Civil Aviation, which in 1968 became part of a new "super ministry", the Ministry of Transport.
During the 1980s there was increasing pressure on government funding for meteorology in New Zealand, together with a government-wide move to "user-pays" for specialised services, and to more autonomy and accountability for government departments. A combination of commercial competition in the deregulated market for meteorological services and reform of publicly funded science led to the establishment of MetService as a state-owned enterprise on 1 July 1992.
World Meteorological Organization
The world's national meteorological and hydrological services work with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialised agency of the United Nations. As part of the WMO World Weather Watch, MetService sends observational data gathered from the New Zealand region to other WMO member countries around the world. This is used as input to computer models of the weather at the world's major numerical weather prediction centres.
MetService operates a data collection network within New Zealand. It complies with recognised international standards as prescribed by the WMO over and around New Zealand. In particular, data are collected through:
- Surface observations over New Zealand
- Upper air observations using a variety of means ground-based equipment, aircraft, weather radars
- Voluntary observing ships
- A network of drifting buoys in the Tasman Sea.
The Chief Executive of MetService is the permanent representative of New Zealand with the WMO.
Weather forecasts for New Zealand
Forecasts and warnings funded by the New Zealand government include:
- Basic public and mountain forecasts
- Warnings of hazardous weather affecting land areas
- Aviation (ICAO services):
- Meteorological Watch Office (MWO)
- Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)
- OPMET data.
Metra Information Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited and provides weather and information presentation products and services globally under the MetraWeather brand to:
- Energy generators (combined cycle gas turbine operators, hydro power operators and wind farm operators), retailers and network managers
- Television stations, via the Weatherscape XT weather presentation system
- Print media (newspapers and magazines)
- Mobile communications operators.
MetService maintains close links with the meteorological agencies of various Pacific Island states.
All warnings of hazardous weather for the South Pacific region, normally received from the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center in Nadi, Fiji, are forwarded to Radio New Zealand International and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
MetService provides backup for the main warning and forecasting responsibilities of the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center in Nadi, Fiji, should that centre temporarily shut down or be cut off, possibly due to a direct hit by a cyclone. They also take over Primary warning responsibility should a cyclone move to the south of 25S.
Numerical weather prediction
The cooperative relationship among the world's national meteorological services enables the sharing of much weather information, including the output from global numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Meteorologists at MetService routinely use information from the world's major modelling centres for day-to-day production of forecasts and weather warnings.
The global models that MetService uses generally provide reliable forecasts of weather features, like highs and lows, over forecast periods of several days; however, they are less effective at predicting small-scale weather features like sea breezes and localised showers. Such features are often strongly affected by the local geography, which tends to be poorly represented in the global models.
An effective way of dealing with this problem is to use another type of NWP model known as a limited-area model. MetService routinely runs a number of limited-area models based on both MM5 and WRF with lateral boundary conditions provided by each of the available global models. The primary model configuration for regional forecasting in New Zealand has a horizontal spacing between grid points of 12 km, which allows weather features down to about 50 km wide to be represented (highs and lows are thousands of kilometres wide). This domain is nested within a much larger domain of 60 km grid spacing, which enables the weather to be modelled over quite a large geographical area for reasonable computational cost.
- De Lisle, John Felix. Sails to satellites: a history of meteorology in New Zealand. History of the New Zealand Meteorological Service from its inception through to 1985, written by a former Director. While published by the then New Zealand Meteorological Service, the author states in the Preface that "The Service, which sponsored this book, has had no influence upon the interpretation of historical events, or the judgements made." New Zealand Meteorological Service, 1986. ISBN 0-477-07300-X
- Steiner, J Thomas; Martin, John R; Gordon, D Neil; Grant, Malcolm A (September 1991). "Commercialization in the provision of meteorological services in New Zealand". Meteorological Applications (Royal Meteorological Society) 4 (3): 247–257. doi:10.1017/S1350482797000480.