MoES to focus on discovery, improved observations

By: Staff Reporter
Interviews

New Delhi, Jan 23 (G’nY news service) The year 2013 has seen a spate of disasters – cyclone Phailin, Uttarakhand floods and apart from the recurrent flood related woes of Bihar and Assam. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES)plays an important role in providing services in forecasting the monsoons and other weather/climate parameters. Apart from prediction the ministry is also gearing to bring on new observation platforms for snow, ice and cloud cover.

Dr. Shailesh Nayak, the secretary of the MoES, in a brief interaction with G’nY, comments about the services rendered to the nation by the ministry and states its plans for the forthcoming year.

shailesh n big box

Dr. Shailesh Nayak in his office (Photo: Sulagna Chattopadhyay)

What are the ministry’s plans for disaster forecasting and early warning?
For the next few years, the major goal should be to expand our knowledge about earth systems; and the interactions within and across systems for developing improved weather, climate and hazard-related services for sustainable and inclusive development. The first task is to augment the observing systems. Atmospheric observations such as maximum and minimum air temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, rainfall, cloud cover, etc. are made from more than 1000 platforms; this will be enhanced to about 3000. Radar observations will be substantially increased and observations from INSAT 3D will be enhanced.

The Himalayan region is scarcely observed. We will attempt to improve observations, both meteorological as well as snow and ice related, in the region; glaciers and snow-clad regions will also be included. The capabilities for now-casting for expeditions, pilgrimage, tourism, etc. are also to be developed.

A cloud physics lab is being set up in Mahabaleshwar (Maharashtra) for almost continuous observation of clouds. This will help to develop microphysical parameterization scheme for numerical weather prediction models.

Severe weather such as dust storms, extremely heavy rainfall, cloud burst, fog, nor’westers, cyclones, etc. affect different parts of the country regularly. We have a plan in the pipeline to build a warning system for such extreme weather events.

Earthquakes are a hazard which is still not understood comprehensively. The relationship between earthquake pre-cursors and earth generation processes needs to be established. Preparatory activities for drilling a deep borehole in Koyna region have been commenced to undertake a suite of observations, which include stress regime, pore fluid pressure and its variations, heat flow and its variation, orientation of faults, study of chemical properties of guide before, after and during the earthquake, as earthquakes are likely to occur within the vicinity of the borehole. Apart from this, a network of seismometers, accelerometers, and GPS is being built for monitoring earthquakes, studying crustal dynamics, seismological research, active fault monitoring, etc. The efforts are towards generating long-term, multi-parametric observations to understand solid earth.

Has there been any quatification of the socio-economic benefits of the services rendered by MoES?
The National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has carried out the survey of weather and marine services. According to this survey, economic benefits of weather and climate forecasts as well as fishery and ocean state services is about Rs.100,000 crores per year. The benefit of accurate cyclone forecast is tremendous as seen in the case of the Phailin cyclone. The services rendered in the Lakshadweep Islands, such as desalination plants and ornamental fishery have led to about 12 per cent increase in the gross domestic product of the Lakshadweep Islands. These are only few examples of the services rendered by us.

What is the ministry’s vision for 2014?
The agenda is to promote discovery to provide new perspectives on earth systems, improve understanding of earth processes, application of this knowledge for sustainability of the Earth, and development of services for societal benefits.

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