30 Jan : The Ministry of Earth Sciences’ activities mainly contribute to various societal benefits in the areas of Weather (General), Weather advisories specific to agriculture, aviation, shipping, sports, etc, Monsoon, Disasters (cyclone, earthquake, tsunami, sea level rise), Living and non-living resources (fishery advisory, poly-metallic nodules, gas hydrates, etc), Coastal and Marine Ecosystems and Climate Change.
During the period the activities of the ministry have been re-oriented and recast broadly into the following categories viz., Atmospheric science, information & services, Ocean science & services, Geosphere & seismological hazards, Polar science & cryosphere, Ocean technology, Coastal and marine ecosystems, Climate science Non-living resources (ocean), Research vessels, R&D in Earth Sciences and Outreach.
Considerable progress has been achieved under several programmes/schemes of the Ministry. Some of the most significant achievements and initiatives, taken up during the year 2008 include:
Atmospheric Science, Information & Services
Monsoon Prediction: A great deal of modeling efforts has gone into monsoon prediction for the year 2008-09. The overall forecast all India rainfall issued in April and June were 99% and 100% of the Long Period Average compared to 98% actual. Thus the performance of IMD model turned out to be quite accurate. Both onset and rainfall forecast given in April 2008 were found to be quite reasonable.
A new technique of intra-seasonal variability has been studied to understand the active and break monsoon spells during the year. Monsoon rains do not pour continuously for all the 4 months but come in spells. There are periods of heavy rainfall activity over a large part of the country – active and there are spells of complete lull – break. The prediction technique is based on a methodology known as the “analogues”. The technique developed by IITM scientists is a major advance in the field and shows useful skill up to four pentad (20 days). IMD has operationally implemented the technique for real time prediction of active-break spells during the monsoon 2008 season. These forecasts are routinely put at the IMD, Pune website
This year a large number of low pressure systems (number 11) were monitored including one deep depression, three depressions and seven lows formed over the Indian region and the North Indian Ocean during the monsoon season (June-September 2008). The genesis of eight out of 11 systems were predicted by IMD about 2-3 days in advance. The forecast for extreme event of heavy rainfall occurred in May 2008 was done three days ahead and observations found to be accurate. Foretelling of these active and break spells 15-20 days in advance would be very useful for water resource management of dams/reservoir and agriculture planning (sowing, harvesting etc). Scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune have recently developed such a method for predicting active and break spells about 20 days in advance.
Agro-Advisory Services: A new district level weather forecast & advisories was started from June 2008, which was issued after value addition from Regional Met. Centres (RMCs) / Met. Centres (MCs). The quantitative district level (612 districts) weather forecast upto 5 days from 1st June, 2008 using global numerical model predictions. The products comprise of quantitative forecasts for seven weather parameters viz., rainfall, maximum and minimum temperatures, wind speed and direction, relative humidity and cloudiness. Thus, the Ministry has upgraded the AAS from agroclimatic zone scale to district level. It involves all stake holders such as State agricultural Universities (SAUs), Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR), Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK), Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, State Departments of Agriculture/ Horticulture/ Animal Husbandry/ Forestry (Up to District level offices), NGOs, Media Agencies, etc. This project is composed of a five tier structure which includes all the components of service spectrum. It include meteorological (weather observing & forecasting), agricultural (identifying weather sensitive stress & preparing suitable advisory using weather forecast), extension (two way communication with user) and information dissemination (Media, Information Technology, Telecom) agencies. The information is being sent through 130 AgroMet Field Units(AMFUs) located in various districts. The State Level Composite Agromet Advisory Service(AAS) Bulletins are prepared by State MCs, where as the National Agromet Advisory Bulletins are prepared by the National Agromet Advisory Service Centre, IMD, Pune. To strengthen the aviation services, the major work taken up were installation of Integrated Automatic Aviation Meteorological Systems in eight airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Bangalore and initiation of upgrading 20 more airports. IMD had taken up a major upgradation programme for improving the weather services. The project is being implemented in a integrated way.
Geosphere & Seismological Hazards
The Tsunami warning centre was made operational which is now equipped to give a warning within 15 minutes of occurrence of earth quake anywhere in the Indian Ocean is a remarkable achievement. Infact, the tsunami warning centre had monitored a major earthquake during September 2008, which has been used as test for the centre, by providing timely advisories. The INCOIS centre of the Ministry located at Hyderabad has been recognized as Regional Tsunami Warning Provider for the Indian Ocean.
Ocean Science & Services
A set of multipurpose 10 electronic Display Boards capable of providing siren in the event of disaster have been installed in selected locations of Orissa coast for dissemination of Potential fishing zone advisories.
Climate Change Studies
The Ministry has taken up a programme on climate change studies at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune to address various scientific issues relating to climate change including impacts on sectors like health, agriculture and water. The main objectives of Climate change centre is to address issues relating to science aspects particularly on Observations (GHG emissions like carbondi-oxide, methane, CFCs, nitrous oxide etc), Physical Processes, Modelling, Data Products, Impact Assessment and Climate scenarios and Outreach.
Polar Science & Cryosphere
The important activities under the programme during the period include preparation for launch of 28th expedition which left on November 23, 2008. Plus into an agreement with M/s. Nicholas Piramal to work on Biotechnological application on strains isolated from Antarctic samples. Establishment of video conferencing facility between NCAOR and Maitri and two scientific expeditions to Arctic.
Considerable progress has been achieved for installation of a set of three more LTTD plants in islands of Lakshadweep one each at Agatti, Androth and Minicoy respectively. NIOT had demonstrated the underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROSUM 600) upto a depth of 1100 m of Chennai, demonstration of fattening of lobster/crabs of Cobia fish weighing 55 and 63 g which can grow upto 510 and 650 g, respectively, within 110days, development of 32 species of microalgae for exploration of biolipid and biochemicals production, collection of over 10 species of seaweeds for screening for potential antifouling compounds.
Coastal Marine Ecology Services
As a part of generation and dissemination of information for the coastal fisherman community, a methodology was developed and made operation on experimental basis for identification of Tuna Fish aggregation zones. The Marine living centre at Kochi had prepared CDs on Marine Mammals seasonal and climatological Atlas for Indian EEZ and conducted a National Seminar & Training on Acoustics for fish & plankton biomass estimation. This centre has also monitored for the first time a number of harmful algal blooms in various coastal waters.
Non-living Resources (Ocean)
The new activities initiated during the current year : Hydrothermal Sulphides aims to identify suitable site for future development. Characterization of slow spreading Carlsberg ridges, Andaman Subduction zone in terms of tectonic, volcanic and hydrothermal processes and to delineate the zones of hydrothermal mineralization, and their relation with seafloor and sub seafloor ecosystems. Cobalt Crusts Exploration primarily to identify areas of occurrence of cobalt-enriched ferromanganese crusts, assessment of resource potential of co-rich deposits on Afanasiy-Nikitin seamount in the Afanasiy-Nikitin Seamount region.
To harness various non-living resources in a sustainable way, a suitable platform like Technology Demonstration Vessel (TDV). Sagar Nidhi equipped with the state-of-the art facility, was dedicated to the nation in March 2008 which was made fully operational. This new facility will also cater to survey, and act as a supply and support platform for the various deep ocean activities planned by the Ministry. This vessel will serve as a platform for the programme envisaged in the XI Plan and also serve as a utility science vessel which will augment the capacity needs of the marine non-living resources programme of the Department.