Taking the weather with you

Published on LSIS Helen Frank (author and photographer)

Meteorologist Lieutenant Ami Hansen ties off a weather balloon before launching onboard HMAS Canberra. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Meteorologist Lieutenant Ami Hansen ties off a weather balloon before launching onboard HMAS Canberra.

Being a Navy meteorologist isn’t just about the wind and rain, there is a tactical element to the job as well.
 
Lieutenant Ami Hansen specialised in meteorology after initially joining the Royal Australian Navy as a maritime warfare officer in 2003.
 
Her career has taken her to Vanuatu, San Diego and Hawaii, and she is now in HMAS Canberra, which is in the tropical waters of north Queensland conducting amphibious training activities.

Meteorologist Lieutenant Ami Hansen launches a weather balloon from HMAS Canberra.

Meteorologist Lieutenant Ami Hansen launches a weather balloon from HMAS Canberra.


 
The ship has embarked 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, with MRH-90 helicopters from 5 Aviation Regiment to undertake the Sea Series of exercises.
 
Lieutenant Hansen is a part of the Amphibious Task Group and her job is to deliver weather reports to Command.
 
“I report on any weather that may affect aviation and small boat operations,” she said.
 
“We look at the sea state and swell, as that changes how the ship moves and can determine if we are able to launch a helicopter.
 
“I also look at the weather where the aircraft is going to land because it’s one thing to take off from the ship but we need to be able to land them also.”
 
Lieutenant Hansen reports on many elements of the weather including wind, sea state, swell, cloud cover, visibility and general conditions.
 
“I get my information from a variety of sources, the Bureau of Meteorology is an amazing resource,” she said.
 
“The ship has its own sensors for things like wind direction and speed and we can also launch weather balloons which give us an indication of what it happening in the upper atmosphere.
 
“We also use satellite imagery and computer models.”

HMAS Canberra imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20152274.