15 Jan : India Meteorological Department (IMD) is the principal nodal Government agency in the country entrusted with the responsibility of making systematic observations of weather and climate and providing weather related warnings/forecasts to all sectors of activity.
Being one of the oldest scientific departments, IMD traces its origin to the pre-independence era when large scale weather related calamities like the Orissa and the Bengal famines triggered a series of actions culminating into establishment of the Department in 1875.
India has some of the oldest meteorological observatories of the world. The British East India Company established several such stations—Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1785 and Madras (now Chennai) in 1796 for studying the weather and climate of India. A disastrous tropical cyclone struck Kolkata in 1864 and this was followed by failure of the monsoon rains in 1866 and 1871. In the year 1875 the Government decided to set up Meteorological Department on All India basis by appointing Mr. H.F. Blanford as the Imperial Meteorological Reporter to the Government.
The first Director General of observatories was Sir John Eliot who was appointed in May 1889 at Kolkata. The headquarters of IMD was later shifted to Shimla, then to Poona (now Pune) and finally to New Delhi.
Now into the 134th year of its service to the Nation, the Department is a new, modern and well-equipped organization.Need for Speed
Over the years there has been rapid technological advances in digital automated systems, use of non-conventional observations such as radar and remotely sensed satellite based observations and high resolution multi-model forecasting systems. In short, manual synoptic weather forecasting has given place to hybrid systems in which synoptic science is overlaid on numerical models supported by modern observation network with real time connectivity. Thus, there is an urgent need to modernize and upgrade existing observational, data processing and forecasting environment of IMD taking advantage of the advances in digital information technology being adopted by the meteorological services around the globe.
The real challenge is to reach to the standards of leading Meteorological Services in the World such as UK, USA, France, Japan, Canada and Australia who have modern features such as dense network for observation of atmosphere, ocean and environmental parameters; High Performance Computing System (HPCS) to assimilate the high quality observational data to run models of the atmosphere to forecast its future state down to very small resolution; High speed connectivity of the observation network with the HPCS and for fast dissemination of value added forecast products to the users; Knowledge base which took many years to evolve an advanced meteorological information and forecasting environment with IT enabled Technology.
In order to bridge the existing gap in terms of technological infrastructure and the knowledge base to install, maintain, operate and develop an integrated meteorological decision support system, IMD requires long term partnership with the leading meteorological services in the world to acquire the Knowledge Modules (Basic Design), Application Software Packages, Training including Transfer of Knowledge and Technical know-how to implement modernization.
The Planning Commission gave a number of guidelines for modernization of IMD under the newly created Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in May 2006 followed by Government approval for the first phase of modernization at a cost of Rs. 920 crores.
As a part of modernization study and in keeping with the guidelines, six committees have been constituted comprising eminent scientists and experts in India to specify the optimum requirements for observation, forecasting, aviation, agro-meteorology and human resource in the field of meteorology to provide a weather service of World Standard.
In order to achieve the target, the modernization scheme recommended by the Expert Committee is being carried out in phased manner. Implementation of Phase-I will enable IMD to collect sufficiently dense observational data with the help of automatic Weather Stations, Doppler Radars, Wind Profilers etc. to run global and regional numerical prediction models with sufficient accuracy and also meso-scale models at specific geographical areas to forecast high impact weather events like severe thunderstorm and heavy rainfall causing flash flood.Forecasting Environment
The forecasting environment will provide high quality analysis of the atmosphere based on the initial conditions capability to generate location specific advisory/forecast in the form of short, extended, medium range and seasonal forecasts. This requires numerical models at different scales from global, regional and mesoscale to be run on operational basis. Research and Development in continuous mode would enable forecasters of IMD to issue forecasts down to the district and even upto the village level.
Forecasting environment will be set up as an integrated fully automated facility in which manual synoptic weather forecasting will be replaced by hybrid systems in which synoptic science is overlaid on numerical models supported by modern graphical and GIS applications to produce the following results:
? High-resolution global NWP model outputs will provide a nearly perfect and complete representation, at any time of the day the atmospheric and upper ocean structure through the assimilation process of data, combined with improved physical parameterizations in the models,
? Ensemble of forecasts to yield estimates of the variances, or uncertainties, in the NWP forecasts, as well as expected values for weather conditions.
? Nowcasting using Doppler Weather Radar mosaic and Lightening Detection Sensors to issue warning of severe thunderstorm, hail and heavy precipitation events.
? Aviation Meteorological forecasts of wind, temperature and significant weather conditions along the route of the aircraft and current weather conditions along the runway during take off and landing.
? High quality Agro-met Advisory Services (AAS) in the country for plant protection, fertilizer application, frost/heat injuries, irrigation management, sowing, harvest & post harvest activities etc.
? High quality extension of the forecast up to district and village levels and location. (PIB Features)