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    RUSSIA UPGRADES WEATHER SERVICE ON $80 MN PROJECT

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 18, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI) - Russia intends to start twelve more meteorological stations and 34 stationary posts within the year, and resume the work of three Chechen-based stations. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development is willing to assist re-equipment of Russia's entire weather service on a project estimated at US$80 million. The updating program promises to spectacularly improve forecasts, and help Russia to cope with related international obligations.

    The information comes from Alexander Bedritsky, in charge of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, who addressed a RIA Novosti news conference today.

    Russian weather experts are ready with pioneer knowhow soon to be offering detailed 48 hour forecasts for 18 Russian provincial centers at three hour breaks, and to forecast residue and cloud conditions for three to five days ahead. The new techniques also guarantee reliable detailed air temperature forecasts for a month, said Roman Wilfand, Russian Hydrometeocenter director, who also took part in the news conference.

    Arctic-based weather studies are going on this year on an ambitious scale. Another drifting station, the SP 33, will open in the Arctic Ocean's heart toward next summer's end.

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