Mon­soon chasers

To be a weather sci­en­tist in In­dia is a tough job. They forecast the well­be­ing of 65 per cent of the coun­try's pop­u­la­tion ev­ery year, rather ev­ery hour. `REAL-TIME PRE­DIC­TION IS THE CHAL­LENGE'

Down to Earth - - APPRAISAL -

Mon­soon is the planet's most com­plex weather sys­tem, which makes its pre­dic­tion dif­fi­cult. So, since the launch of Mon­soon Mis­sion in 2012, our ob­jec­tive has been to im­prove the pre­dic­tion sys­tems so that we can con­sis­tently pro­vide re­li­able mon­soon fore­casts.And we have fairly suc­ceeded in it.

Un­til re­cently we had very poor pre­dic­tive abil­ity. Now, with the in­flux of tech­nolo­gies for ob­ser­va­tions and mea­sure­ments of me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal pa­ram­e­ters, we have a much bet­ter sense of present con­di­tions, which is es­sen­tial for fu­ture pre­dic­tions. We have en­hanced the res­o­lu­tion of satel­lite im­ages by re­duc­ing their grid sizes from the stan­dard 100 km2 to 38 km2, keep­ing in mind the sen­si­tiv­ity and vari­abil­ity of the In­dian mon­soon.This helps us ob­serve lo­cal fac­tors, such as cloud cover, in a much more ac­cu­rate fash­ion. Ad­vances in nu­mer­i­cal mod­el­ling of mon­soon have also greatly helped us im­prove pre­dictabil­ity.Soon we will be able to set up a real-time mon­soon pre­dic­tion sys­tem.

How­ever, un­like sev­eral de­vel­oped coun­tries,In­dia does not have a weather pre­dic­tion model of its own. We use an Amer­i­can model,ncep cfs v2.0,de­vel­oped by the US Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (noaa). To make it suit­able for pre­dict­ing the mon­soon, we are re­work­ing some of its parts by feed­ing in our ob­ser­va­tions and cal­cu­la­tions.We ran the model in Jan­uary this year. Af­ter run­ning it 40 times, we re­leased our mon­soon pre­dic­tions in Fe­bru­ary, months be­fore other agen­cies could. We also re­fore­casted mon­soon in­ci­dences be­tween 1982 and 2008 to eval­u­ate ef­fi­ciency of

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