‘2015 was the warmest year on record in recent history’

The year 2015 has been one of the warmest, owing to El Nino, western disturbances and extra-tropical weather conditions.

Written by Vinod Kumar | Chandigarh | Updated: March 21, 2016 9:01 am

gsdfgdg mnThis year, winter has been shorter and warmer. What are the reasons?

This year, we had a warm winter and El Nino is the reason behind it. El Nino, which refers to a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns, was the strongest this year in recent years. The minimum temperatures remained 4 to 5 degrees high through the winter season. There are other factors such as change in pattern of Western Disturbances (WD) for warmer winters. WD, which brings sudden winter rain and snow, was weak this year. Overall, 2015 was the warmest year on record in recent history as the annual average minimum temperature of Chandigarh was the highest in the recent past.

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While the temperature was high in the last week of February, it suddenly dropped in the first week of March. What led to the sudden fall in temperature?

El Nino was very strong till February and its affect started to diminish in March which resulted in the sudden change in weather. As a result of this, there was a widespread spell of rain in March, which was the highest in recent years. It rained for three to four days at a stretch. It happened for the first time in last 10 years. Projections are that the effect of El Nino will reduce in coming months, which is a good sign.

This year, winter has been shorter and warmer. What are the reasons?

This year, we had a warm winter and El Nino is the reason behind it. El Nino, which refers to a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns, was the strongest this year in recent years. The minimum temperatures remained 4 to 5 degrees high through the winter season. There are other factors such as change in pattern of Western Disturbances (WD) for warmer winters. WD, which brings sudden winter rain and snow, was weak this year. Overall, 2015 was the warmest year on record in recent history as the annual average minimum temperature of Chandigarh was the highest in the recent past.

While the temperature was high in the last week of February, it suddenly dropped in the first week of March. What led to the sudden fall in temperature?

El Nino was very strong till February and its affect started to diminish in March which resulted in the sudden change in weather. As a result of this, there was a widespread spell of rain in March, which was the highest in recent years. It rained for three to four days at a stretch. It happened for the first time in last 10 years. Projections are that the effect of El Nino will reduce in coming months, which is a good sign.

How is the weather forecast?

Weather forecasting is a complex process. Various models and techniques are used to predict weather. These days we are using Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP), which is considered to be the best method to predict weather. There are different forecast models which are used, depending on type of forecast and region. NWP simulate the physical atmosphere activities prevailing in a particular region to provide predictions on different variables such as temperature, pressure, wind and rainfall. Satellite 3D images are used to study clouds. The images can tell how much rain a particular cloud can give. Dopplar weather radars keep a track of movements of clouds. It scans position of cloud every 10 minutes. The forecast is further forwarded to different agencies through sms, e-mails and telephone.

What are the major challenges in weather forecasting?

The biggest challenge is to meet the expectations of the users. Talking of Chandigarh, people expect very specific information. We get request for forecast in a particular sector at a particular time. In case of thunder storm, which develops immediately, it is difficult to give specific forecast. The expectations of users are very high for the we need more manpower and instruments. To meet the expectations of users with accuracy is a big challenge for the department.

Is weather forecasting more or less accurate now than it was two decades back?

There has been a sea change in accuracy of weather forecast. In last 10 years, winter forecasts have been nearly accurate. There are some variations in monsoon predication. Despite that the accuracy rate is more than 70 per cent. Forecasting weather is a complex science and predicting 100 per cent accurate forecast will remain a challenge.

Weather predictions made by different agencies usually vary. Why?

Every agency is using different model and data base. India Meteorological Department (IMD) is a government run body while other agencies are commercial and they use private data base. Main focus of IMD is to provide correct information while private agencies are market driven. Last year, IMD had predicted below average monsoon while private agencies had predicted normal monsoon. Our predication was near accurate. Due to difference in forecast, the users are not sure about which forecast is correct.

How have methods of weather forecasting changed over the years?

Over the years, there have been lot of changes. With advent of high end technology, we have been able to accurately predict weather 10 days in advance. We have also started giving predictions a month in advance. There has been change in seasonal forecast. The duration and accuracy of predication has increased.

Despite technology, why do the weathermen still get it wrong so often?

The accuracy rate has improved for sure. But there is a gap between service provider and end user, which arises due to lack of proper communication. Each forecast has a validity. If the forecast reaches the user late or the user is slow in reacting on the forecast, it fails to serve any purpose. Both user and the service provider has to work closely for effective use of the forecast.

What were the major breakthroughs in meteorology and weather forecasting in the recent past?

Being agriculture dominated nation, service to farmers has been the biggest breakthrough for the department. Since 2008, we have been providing accurate and timely forecast to farmers, which has led to improvement of farm output. This has been achieved due to modernisation carried out in massive scale. India is ranked amongst top 5 countries in weather forecast. At present, we have reached up to district level. Our aim is to provide services to farmers at village level.

SMS-based weather alerts service was launched for Chandigarh. What is the status?

We had started weather alert service for Chandigarh, but we had to discontinue it. We were providing the service through farmers portal.

The forecast for farmers is separate from general public. We have decided to launch a mobile application which will provide information meant for general public only. The application is being developed and will be launched soon.

Any plans to start a Chandigarh-specific service?

Chandigarh has been selected for a pilot project under which we will provide our services to the health sector. We will provide inputs to the health department to take preventive steps in advance.

For example, if there is sudden rise or fall in temperatures, the health department will take steps accordingly. Scientist of IMD and health will work together on this project. We are also going to start recording air pollution in the city.

Weather forecasting is a complex process. Various models and techniques are used to predict weather. These days we are using Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP), which is considered to be the best method to predict weather. There are different forecast models which are used, depending on type of forecast and region. NWP simulate the physical atmosphere activities prevailing in a particular region to provide predictions on different variables such as temperature, pressure, wind and rainfall. Satellite 3D images are used to study clouds. The images can tell how much rain a particular cloud can give. Dopplar weather radars keep a track of movements of clouds. It scans position of cloud every 10 minutes. The forecast is further forwarded to different agencies through sms, e-mails and telephone.

 

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