IMD’s new weather model will make forecasts more reliable

February 13, 2017 12:04 am | Updated 12:04 am IST - Pune:

The model is is expected to be able to issue forecasts as early as nine months in some cases.

The model is is expected to be able to issue forecasts as early as nine months in some cases.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has switched to a new weather prediction model which would enable it to issue forecasts well in advance.

According to scientists at the IMD, the institution has begun using the indigenous version of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction-Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2), for issuing seasonal and extended range forecasts.

This system is designed to improve area-specific weather predictions across the country and is expected to be able to issue forecasts as early as nine months in some cases.

The CFSv2 is a coupled climate model developed by the United States National Centers for Environmental Prediction . The model was installed at the Prithvi high-performance computer (HPC) at the city-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM).

“Earlier, data from international agencies used to be tailored to Indian climactic conditions. The inputs fed into the system in case of this indigenous model are adapted to Indian weather conditions, which we hope, will enable us to get more reliable forecasts,” said Dr. A.K. Sahai, head of climate research and services, IMD.

As part of the Ministry of Earth Sciences’s Monsoon Mission project, which commenced in 2012, the IITM has been instrumental in developing the indigenous strategy of the model, with the institute carrying out multiple trials under Indian weather conditions in a bid to hone the model’s accuracy.

This model is supported by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, a unit of the Earth System Science Organization. The atmospheric data to aid computation is provided by the Noida-based National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting.

Climate models are computer programs made up of mathematical equations that quantitatively describe how factors like atmospheric temperature, air pressure, winds, water vapour and clouds respond to the heating of the Earth‘s surface.

Coupled climate models have equations describing three-dimensional oceanic circulation (the large-scale movement of waters across the Earth’s oceanic basins), and how it transports the absorbed solar energy around the Earth, how it exchanges heat and moisture with the atmosphere.

Given the high casualty rates owing to extreme weather, it is hoped this model will be able to issue seasonal forecasts well-ahead of the standard three-month forecasts previously put out by the IMD.

Official sources say more than 1,500 people died last year owing to adverse weather like floods, heat waves, cold waves and lightning. The figure was higher in 2015, with the death toll exceeding 2,200.

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