US-India pact to help improve monsoon forecasts

November 13th, 2010 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 13 (IANS) India’s monsoon forecasting is expected to improve with its entering into a new collaborative agreement with the United States.

The agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences is part of a series of food security agreements formalised this week during President Barack Obama’s visit to India.

“The Monsoon Agreement, by striving to improve long-range monsoon prediction, holds great potential to improve the well-being of the people of India, while also benefitting the United States and other nations through improvements in their own seasonal climate forecasts,” said NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco.

“NOAA looks forward to this new relationship with the Ministry of Earth Sciences for the mutual benefit of our nations,” added Lubchenco, who is also under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere.

India experiences monsoon weather, typically resulting in six months of rain beginning in early June. But it is difficult to predict when the monsoon will begin, how strong it will be or when it will end - information that can help plan for seasonal crops and project surface water supplies.

In addition to the regional impacts, the Indian Ocean-Asia monsoon system represents one of the largest weather and climate features in the world, transporting energy between the northern and southern hemispheres and impacting weather and climate throughout the world.

Under the agreement, the US will create a monsoon forecast desk at the National Centres for Environmental Prediction, part of NOAA’s National Weather Service in Camp Springs, Maryland.

Visiting atmospheric scientists from India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences will collaborate with NOAA scientists to share knowledge and skills to improve the Climate Forecast System (CFS) for long-range forecasts of the monsoon.

The CFS is the backbone of seasonal climate forecasts in the United States and under the agreement, the United States will also provide the CFS to India and provide technical training to visiting scientists so they can implement it in India.

Collaboration will also focus on the Global Forecast System for improving short-range monsoon forecasts in the Southwest United States.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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