Coastal communities in Kerala will soon be better prepared to face natural hazards such as cyclones, tidal waves, storm surges and tsunamis, thanks to an early warning and information system to be established by the Hyderabad- based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) here.

The first of the two wave rider buoys that form part of the system will be installed off the coast of Valiathura on Wednesday. The buoy will function as a coastal observation station, generating real time information on waves, tide and ocean currents. The data will be disseminated to fishermen to help them plan fishing expeditions and warn them about extreme weather conditions.

The buoys will also help identify potential fishing zones and movement of shoals, N.P. Kurien, Director, CESS and T.M. Balakrishnan Nair, Head, Information Services and Ocean Sciences Group, INCOIS, told reporters here on Tuesday. They said real time information from the buoy would be relayed to the supercomputer at INCOIS and incorporated with satellite data to generate models for forecasting. Other scientific institutions could also use the data as input for research work, they added.

Mr. Nair said the system was designed for multi hazard ocean forecasting and warning. “It can also gather information about oil spills and provide potential fishing zone advisory”.

INCOIS has identified Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode for installing the wave rider buoys because they represent the differing wave regime of the Kerala coast. The second buoy is to be established off Kozhikode by the year end, Principal Investigator of the project Sheela Nair said. Moored to the seabed, the buoys installed at a depth of 30 metres will be powered by batteries.

Mr. Kurien said the installation of buoys would be followed by the establishment of automatic weather stations, tide gauges and current meters. The project funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences also involves the setting up of a digital display board at the Vizhinjam fishing harbour to relay information to fishermen.

The data from the buoy will be transmitted every 30 minutes through the INSAT- C satellite to a shore station located at CESS. A GPS (Global Positioning System) set mounted on the buoy can be used to monitor the position of the buoy continuously. The data will then be sent to INCOIS, Hyderabad, for dissemination to various end-users such as the India Meteorological Department, Coast Guard, Navy and ONGC.

Mr. Kurien said CESS will organise workshops and employ other methods of mass communication such as television, radio, newspaper and VHF to disseminate the data to the user communities such as fishermen. “The data generated by the buoy will be used for various applications such as fisheries, shipping, climate studies and forecasting, coastal zone management, oil exploration, offshore or coastal engineering works and rescue operations at sea. Institutes, including the National Physical Oceanographic Laboratory and Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, and universities would find the data useful,” he added.