India wakes up to invest more in weather forecast (Lead)

January 5th, 2010 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Balaji
Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 5 (IANS) The Indian government has decided to invest Rs.1 billion in capacity building for advanced weather forecast after decades of neglect, a top official said Tuesday.

“We have started investing about Rs.100 crore in modernising our weather forecast infrastructure across the country and in setting up a training centre at Pune to meet the shortage of personnel,” Shailesh Nayak, the secretary in the earth sciences ministry, told IANS here.

Much as in other critical infrastructure areas, the cumulative state spending in capacity building for weather forecast and related activities was Rs.100 crore (Rs.10 billion) over the last 35 years.

“The annual budget for capacity building, including equipment, modernisation and expansion in meteorological (met) offices across the country was a mere Rs.2-3 crore for over 35 years,” Nayak said on the margins of the 97th Indian Science Congress 2010.

As a result of resource constraints and acute shortage of personnel, the met department has been unable to scale up its operations for advanced weather forecast and data generation in associated areas.

“The proposed centre at Pune will train about 40-50 young science graduates and engineers every year in specific areas and absorb them to handle various weather operations,” Nayak said after delivering a plenary address on ‘Weather, Climate & Environment’ on the third day of the five-day premier science event.

With modern instruments, better infrastructure and more personnel, the met department plans to switch over to the dynamic model of weather forecasting from the traditional statistical model.

“The dynamic model will help us to produce data in the long range and forecast weather in advance. Though we are able to predict heavy rainfall in short or medium range, we do not know its magnitude,” Nayak pointed out.

The dynamic model will also help in predicting breaks in monsoon and forecast drought spells in advance.

As prospects of extended rainfall beyond two weeks is unpredictable, the met department plans to do research to study variations in weather parameters such as surface wind, sea surface temperature, cloud formations and precipitations to build moisture in the atmosphere.

“The observation system will be enhanced to study all weather aspects after Insat-3D satellite is launched later this year. We plan to deploy more people and install latest equipment to collect data on the vagaries of weather including cyclones, drought and climatic changes due to global warming,” Nayak noted.

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