July 27, 2016 was a historic day as it marked the completion of ten years of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The contribution of the Ministry to the progress of the nation during this decade, in all aspects of earth sciences has been phenomenal. An event tiled ‘Celebration of 10 years of Ministry of Earth Sciences (2006-2016),’ was organised to celebrate the day at Vigyan Bhawan, with more than 500 eminent scientists from all over the nation, and 1000 young students attending it and interacting with each other during the course of the day.
Earth System Science Organization (ESSO)-MoES is a knowledge enterprise in the earth system science for bringing socio-economic benefit to the nation. The MoES was established in the year 2006 by bringing all the agencies of meteorological and ocean developmental activities under one umbrella. The purpose of the endeavour is to address holistically various aspects relating to earth system processes for improving forecast of the weather, climate and various natural geo-hazards. The mission of the Ministry is to provide services for weather, natural hazards, climate, ocean and coastal state, seismology, and exploring marine living and non-living resources and the polar regions. Over the past few years, the quality of weather, climate, ocean and seismological services provided by MoES has improved due to systematic efforts in augmenting atmospheric, coastal and ocean observations and survey, geophysical observations, polar research, developing adequate modelling strategy, conducting cutting-edge research and investing in human resources development.
The major achievements made by the ministry during the past ten years are:
- Augmentation of atmospheric and climate observational network
- Development of dynamical prediction systems
- Improvement of quality of services
- Advancements in research and development activities
- Significant progress in establishing a large ocean observing network for the Indian Ocean in the past 10 years.
- Improvement in ocean and atmospheric technology
- Ocean survey and exploration
- Polar and cryosphere studies
- Geosciences and seismology
- Basic research, infrastructure, human resources development and international collaborations.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences during his chief guest address congratulated the Ministry for its outstanding work. He appreciated the various achievements of India’s scientists in the field of coastal information, agro advisories, prediction of monsoon, initiatives in the Himalaya, Arctic and Antarctic – to name a few. He said that this decennial foundation day of the Ministry should be celebrated as the ‘nav sankalp divas‘ – a day of new awakening with renewed energy.
The minister inaugurated the Vision Document for 2030, knowledge and technology enterprise in the Earth System Science for public safety and socio-economic benefits to the nation. The document contains the major accomplishments of MoES and the way forward in a 15 year mission mode – till 2030. He also inaugurated the ‘Transforming Lives with Science’, the special Geography and You magazine, which lucidly showcases the ministry’s work in major thrust areas, with vibrant visuals, such as tsunami warning systems, cloud seeding, agro advisories, sea farms, civil aviation and many more.
Shri Y. S. Chowdary, Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, also present at the proceedings as the guest of honour, congratulated the scientists for their extraordinary work in the field of earth sciences and provided a succinct overview of the wonderful work done the last decade.
Dr M. Rajeevan, secretary MoES New Delhi, praised the progress which has been made in monsoon prediction. He opined that there was a lot more that needs be achieved as monsoon affects agriculture sector and in return the economy – and its accurate prediction can become a barometer of growth for the nation. Dr Rajeevan also briefly outlined the monsoon mission dynamical model and pointed out its biases, and areas of reform. He said that the biases needed to be reduced and a new and improved prediction system put in place by reducing the systemic biases. Dr Rajeevan also breifly touched upon the second phase of the Monsoon Mission to be commenced in 2017.
The Foundation Day keynote lecture was delivered by Dr A. S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and secretary, Department of Space. He shared deep insights about how closely ISRO and MoES is linked and the ventures and work profiles that they share for the benefit of all citizens of India. He also briefly outlined the achievements and advancements have been made in the field of weather forecasting in collaboration with ISRO.
During the festivities, scientists from various fields were felicitated with prestigious national awards. An award for outstanding contribution on ocean sciences technology was given to Dr M Dileep Kumar; for atmospheric science and technology to Prof. P.V Joseph; for geoscience and technology to Prof. Shyam Sundar Rai; and, for Polar science and cryospheric research to Dr S. Shivaji. The life time award for excellence award in earth system science was given to Prof. Sulochana Gadgil. Several other awards were also distributed to young scientists during the proceedings.
The event was preceded by a technical session in the morning, which constituted of luminary lectures by experts from the field.
Prof. Srinivasan, Chairman, Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science (IISC) Bangalore, presented a insightful paper on the work being done in India on climate change in the past ten years. He suggested that more research is needed on droughts and long term heat waves.
Prof. U.C. Mohanty, Emeritus Professor, Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Bhubaneshwar, expressed that weather prediction was the most difficult task. He is confident that, as we have moved from subjective to digital models in the last decade, we will further move ahead to make better prediction models in the future. He also added that the cyclone warning systems, that have been functioning impeccably, have played a major role during Cyclone Phailin which occurred in 2013, helping save hundreds of lives.
Dr. Satish Shetye, Vice-Chancellor, Goa University, discussed that in the last few years acoustic Doppler profiles along shore of India for ocean current meters – provided evidence of pole ward propagation and marked the impact of forcing. He said that the progress that the country has made in the last ten years has provided unequivocal evidence that ocean currents need a wider understanding, and considerable improvement is needed if high resolution models are to be accurately simulated.
Dr. P.S Goel, Founder Secretary, MoES, gave a walk through of MoES’s journey in the last decade. He pressed on the fact that enabling mechanisms should be created and outreach of services should increase. He also mentioned the ideology behind behind establishing MoES in 2006 and the challenges he faced while integrating various institutions and departments working under the ministry. Now that MoES is a decade old, Dr. Goel has a vision in mind for the next ten years of the ministry.
Prof. Vinod Gaur, Honorary Emeritus Scientist, Center for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation(CMMACS) Bangalore said that hydrological science is at an exciting threshold. He talked about the immense work that has been done in the Kabini Basin and highlighted how soil moisture plays a key role in monsoon prediction. He also talked about decision support for farmers and policy makers through forecasting and projections. Dr Guar also brought into focus the need for better research in flood forecasting systems, which can be improved to avert or tackle situations like that which happened in Chennai.
Dr Shailesh Nayak, former secretary, MoES, New Delhi talked about his area on snow and ice wherein he talked about cryospheric science through ice core results and set the goal for future which is predictive modelling. He also talked about the extent of India’s focus in the field of cryospheric research. He also dictated his ideas by which the ministry can attract the best and the brightest students to pursue a career in the Earth sciences.
Dr Harsh Gupta, Fellow, National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad spoke about seismological research in India. He expressed that lives lost during seismological events should be abated. He asserted the need to do undertake better and more indepth microzonation studies. Dr. Gupta opined that Tokyo’s early warning system should be replicated in the Indian context.
The foundation day ended on a positive note, with palpable energy forging through the group of eminent scientists present.