The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is planning a ‘decadal forecast’ system along the lines of the United Kingdom’s Met Office to ensure better predictability in the climate time scale, said Dr. M. Rajeevan, Secretary, MoES recently.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 6th International Conference on Climate Services being held at the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Dr. Rajeevan said the system, based on a coupled climate model, would first be taking shape in the form of a research programme and would be operational only after its merits had been evaluated.
“This is a new idea with more relevance to present climate forecasting needs. So, given the need for longer-range prediction for 10 or 20 years, we will be starting a new programme in the country using a coupled climate model by utilising signals emanating from deep oceans to predict decadal climate changes,” he said.
Refusing to elaborate on the operational aspects of the programme, Dr. Rajeevan said the system would be explored as a research programme to be taken up by IITM along with collaboration from the India Meteorological Department and other entities.
“The operational part will be discussed later. First, we will have to conduct significant research and determine the system’s effectiveness,” he said.
The World Meteorological Organization has set up global producing centres, coordinated by the U.K. Met Office, for annual to decadal projections that are already providing global-scale information.
“As there is a lot fundamental work [on the decadal forecasting system] that has already been done, we feel India should not lag behind,” Dr. Rajeevan said.
Once the system was established, it would initially function for long-range forecasting at the national level and the model, if successful, would later be downscaled to the state or even district-level, he said.
Dr. Rajeevan said there were a number of gaps in the understanding of regional climate variability and its connections to global phenomena like Indian Ocean Dipole. Indian forecasters, he said, faced a challenge in maintaining the quality of climate observations, and there is a need on the part of researchers to develop applications for specific sectors based on the available climate forecast.