Technology

An early warning on the ocean state

A wave-rider buoy. Photo: Special arrangement

A wave-rider buoy. Photo: Special arrangement  

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From tsunamis to tidal surges, to strong winds and ocean currents, there are a host of factors that influence the behaviour of seas.

What can bind coastal fishermen, marine scientists, and mariners and coastal security agencies more than their love for the sea? It is their insight into the marine environment and factors that influence the behaviour of the sea that binds them.

From tsunamis to tidal surges, to strong winds and ocean currents, there are a host of factors that influence the behaviour of seas which affect the lives of millions. The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) of the Ministry of Earth Sciences has most of the answers about understanding the sea and its behaviour.

An INCOIS team consisting of T.M. Balakrishnan Nair, R. Harikumar, P.A. Francis, and K.G. Sandhya was selected for the National Geoscience Award – 2014. The award, presented recently, was for developing Ocean Forecast and Information System for India for maritime safety.

The Ocean State Forecast Services (OSFS) provide advance information on wave height, direction and period (of both wind waves and swell waves), sea surface currents, sea surface temperature, mixed layer depth (the well-mixed upper layer of the sea), depth of the 20 degree isotherm (a measure of the depth of the thermocline), astronomical tides, wind speed and direction and oil-spill trajectory. The early warnings on the ocean state system serve fishermen, the oil and shipping industries, ports and harbours, maritime boards, coastal tourism departments, and enforcement and strategic agencies like marine police, Navy, and Coast Guard alike. The information is crucial for planning and executing various operations in seas, explained Dr. Harikumar who is in charge of the OSFS. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation had made use of the assessment of wind potential in its western offshore field using a scatterometer (a microwave radar sensor which measures the scattering effect produced while scanning the surface of the Earth from an aircraft or a satellite), buoys and numerical models.

The assessment maps of the centre are useful to identify the regions where wind-farms can be set-up through the erection of wind driven turbines, he explained.

The forecasts are generated by numerical models, which are evaluated extensively using observations, using indigenously developed real-time observational systems, and are customized to simulate and predict the Indian Ocean features accurately, he said. The forecasts are available for Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Northern Indian Ocean, Southern Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Persian Gulf and South China Sea. INCOIS provides the ocean state forecast along the shipping routes which are routinely used by the shipping industry to plan voyages and to select optimum routing.

The INCOIS has also developed the Online Oil Spill Advisory for forecasting the oil spill trajectories which would help in mitigating the oil spill hazards and cautioning local people. The High Wave bulletins with alerts were found useful during the extreme weather conditions like cyclones. The forecast services have also been extended to Maldives, Sri Lanka and Seychelles in collaboration with the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia.

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Printable version | May 20, 2019 4:10:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/an-early-warning-on-the-ocean-state/article8455381.ece

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