Visakhapatnam: SAMUDRA programme to develop an automated rip current alert system at Rushikonda Beach

The SAMUDRA team that is engaged in measuring rip current with the equipment at Rushikonda Beach.

The SAMUDRA team that is engaged in measuring rip current with the equipment at Rushikonda Beach. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The beaches of Visakhapatnam, including the famous RK Beach, have become dangerous and have recorded a number of deaths due to drowning in the last few years. The experts say that rip current is the main aspect that has made the beaches dangerous.

On an average at least 15 people are dying per year in the main beaches in Visakhapatnam such as RK Beach, Rushikonda Beach and Yarada Beach.

The Rushikonda Beach has already been certified as a Blue Flag Beach and with the increased flow of tourists, a real-time warning system could help the lifeguards to easily manage their lifesaving activities.

With this background, Space Applications Centre (SAC), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is collaboratively working with Department of Meteorology and Oceanography, Andhra University, and National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS), Thiruvananthapuram, on a two-year SAMUDRA programme in developing an automated rip current alert system through Video Beach Monitoring System (VBMS).

This system consists of a camera installed on a top of a tower nearby Rushikonda Beach. The necessary permissions have been granted by the APTDC and the District Collector, Visakhapatnam. This VBMS station has been established on May 14, and the beach is now continuously being monitored. This camera data will be of utmost important in not only studying and understanding the beach processes and rip currents, but also helpful in assisting the lifeguards in case of any drowning event, said C.V. Naidu, Principal Investigator, SAMUDRA, AU, and Head of the Department, Meteorology and Oceanography, AU.

AU is providing overall guidance and local support to the team comprising S.V.V. Arun Kumar, Scientist (Principal Investigator, SAMUDRA, SAC) and Kanika from Space Applications Centre, Ramesh (Co-Principal Investigator, SAMUDRA, NCESS), Scientist from NCESS Ch. Venkateswarlu and B. Gireesh (AU research scholar).

These centres are working together in developing an automated rip current monitoring system, which would help in identifying dangerous rip currents without much effort. This information shall be shared with the authorities concerned and thereby they can limit the access to such zones. This would not only enhance the safety at beaches but also reduce the number of drownings.

This VBMS station data would be utilised in developing and improving the numerical model based forecasts and therefore they can provide better results. Presently, ISRO is providing rip current forecast to nearly 175 beaches through its own platform on MOSDAC. As a part of this project, the team have deployed a Directional Wave and Tide Recorder instrument at 5 m depth to monitor the waves and tides for the next 10 days off Rushikonda. ISRO has developed an indigenous NavIC (Indian GPS) drifter to measure such dangerous rip currents along with important water quality parameters. This drifter is being operated at Rushikonda beach and is being used to measure the currents and other parameters, said Prof. Naidu.

CoastSnap tool

According to him, the team is going to set up a CoastSnap tool (A camera stand) near RK Beach and Rushikonda Beach, which provides access to the common man to take a photo of the beach using his or her mobile phone and facilitate the team to share with the central database via Facebook and Instagram, thereby involving everyone in this noble cause. This data would be of utmost importance in finding out changes in the beach activity from time to time.

In future, the teams have planned to set up more stations near RK Beach, Yarada and Bheemunipatnam with the support from the APTDC to monitor and forecast dangerous rip currents and beach erosion processes for the benefit of the public.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 9:49:59 pm |