The Melbourne Centre of Excellence (CoE) was in the first group of CoE’s that were approved by the Virtual Laboratory Management Group (VLMG) in May 2001.

The CoE grew from advanced training courses in satellite meteorology and the Man- computer Interactive Data Access System (McIDAS) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 1980’s, coordinated within the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre (BMTC).

Australian Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre.

International involvement commenced with the first APSATS (Asia Pacific Satellite Applications Training Seminar) in 1996. The prime movers in these initiatives were Jeff Wilson and Ian Bell.

Much of the preparatory work for the Virtual Laboratory was conducted in Melbourne in 1999 when BMTC hosted one of the Expert Teams on Satellite Systems and Utilisation.

The second APSATS (APSATS II) featured many of the requirements of the VLMG. This included the use of satellite image manipulation software such as SATAID (from the Japan Meteorological Agency) and McIDAS, Aqua and Terra research satellite products, use of the VISITview teletraining and real-time collaboration tool to run remote lectures, real-time weather discussions and case studies from the United States into the classroom in Australia. Ryoji Kumabe from Japan Meteorological Agency and David Howard from the Bureau of Meteorology Satellite section gave valuable support with SATAID.

The Melbourne CoE was one of the pivotal centres for the HPTE (High Profile Training Event) in 2006 which was run in parallel with APSATS III.

More recently, Virtual Laboratory sessions have been included in the BMTC Advanced Forecaster Courses during 2009, 2010 and 2011. This culminated in the successful “Aviation Week”, conducted from the 30th May to the 3rd June 2011. During these Courses, Regional Focus Group weather briefings have been conducted with Met Service New Zealand, and more recently with the South African Weather Service.

Regional Focus Group sessions are also organised by VLab CoE Australia.

Furthermore, the Melbourne CoE has participated in the review and update of WMO-258 Satellite Meteorology Competencies, which is also important in the development of satellite related subjects within the BMTC “Diploma of Meteorology” curriculum.

In the past the coordinating roles of the Melbourne CoE has been shared between Jeff Wilson and Ian Bell. With promotions and retirements, these roles have been taken over by Roger Deslandes and Bodo Zeschke.

The success of “Aviation Week” will motivate the Melbourne CoE to conduct further remote training weeks. An exciting topic of potential collaboration includes the adaptation of METEOSAT RGB channel combinations to appropriate satellite data to assist in weather forecasting in the Australasian region.


Contacting Centre of Excellence Australia:

CoE website:

Head of CoE: Mick Pope – Bureau of Meteorology Training Centre – BMTC

Main point of contact: Bodo Zeschke – BMTC