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Updated: July 16, 2011 13:04 IST

Districts to have ocean forecast system

Special Correspondent
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Dr.T.M.Balakrishnan Nair, Head, Information Services and Ocean Sciences division, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services. Photo:S.Gopakumar
The Hindu Dr.T.M.Balakrishnan Nair, Head, Information Services and Ocean Sciences division, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services. Photo:S.Gopakumar

Mechanism expected to be in place during 12th Plan period

Scientists from the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services at Hyderabad and the Centre for Earth Science Studies here are working on a programme to establish an ocean forecast system that will provide the district-level administration in the State with early warning and information on natural hazards such as storm surges, cyclones, tidal waves, and tsunami.

The system that relies on a network of wave rider buoys and shore stations and supplemented by satellite data, is expected to be in place during the 12th Plan period, T.M. Balakrishnan Nair, Head, Information Services and Ocean Sciences Group, INCOIS, told The Hindu here on Friday.

He said INCOIS would collaborate with the government, district administration, and NGOs to implement the programme.

Wave rider buoys

INCOIS has identified Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode offshore areas for establishing the wave rider buoys. While the first wave buoy off the coast of Valiathura in Thiruvananthapuram has become functional, the second one is to be established in Kozhikode this year.

Moored to the seabed, the buoys installed at a depth of 30 metres are powered by batteries. Equipped with electronic sensors, they will generate real time information on waves, tides, ocean currents, and sea surface temperature.

Mr. Nair said the installation of the buoys would be followed by the establishment of tide gauges and current meters. “Ever since the tsunami, residents in the coastal areas tend to fly into a panic at the first sign of abnormal wave action that is not uncommon during the monsoon season. By providing accurate information, the administration can instil confidence in the community.”

Real-time information from the buoy is relayed to a supercomputer at INCOIS and incorporated with satellite data to generate site-specific models for forecasting.

The forecast is disseminated to the fishermen community through a website and electronic display boards installed at specific locations along the coastal belt. A website in Malayalam has been developed in-house by INCOIS.

The electronic display board shows the wind direction, wave height, wave length, and near-shore characteristics, all of which are crucial for fishermen venturing out to sea. It also provides potential fishing zone advisory. Any abnormal measurement in wave characteristics will be issued as a warning.

Efforts are on to rope in mobile service providers to provide SMS alerts. “With such a high penetration of mobile phones among the fishermen in Kerala, the SMS-based information makes sense,” Mr. Nair said. “In Gujarat, Puducherry, Ratnagiri, and Karwar, where the ocean state forecast system is already in place, local TV stations and FM radio channels also transmit the data to fishermen and the district administration. NGOs working among fishermen can also be equipped to disseminate the information and provide feedback.”

Other use

The data generated by the system could be used for weather forecasting, climate studies, coastal zone management, oil exploration, coastal engineering, navigation of ships, rescue operations at sea, and scientific research also.

Mr.Nair feels that Kerala should have a comprehensive observation system for sea state forecast as well as to collect long-term data on climate change and monsoon behaviour.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is scheduled to inaugurate the Ocean State Forecast and Fishery Information System for Kerala at Vizhinjam on Saturday morning.


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