In the year 2017, India’s scientific community achieved several feats, on both the national and global turfs. Here is a look back:
Indian connection to Nobel-winning study
The 2017 Nobel prize in Physics announced in October brought laurels to 37 Indian scientists who had joined hands with Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish — Nobel awardees for discovering the gravitational waves in 2015. City-based Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) was among the several national institutions actively involved in the experiment that led to the discovery of the gravitational waves, which were originally proposed by Albert Einstein exactly a century ago. The IUCAA’s emeritus faculty Professor Sanjeev Dhurandhar’s algorithms played a key role in the experiment.
IMD implements indigenous weather prediction model
In 2017, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) made operational an indigenously-developed weather prediction model — NCEP-Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2). The model was developed by Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), between 2012 and 2016, as a part of the Monsoon Mission project undertaken by the Ministry of Earth Science (MoES). Operationalisation of the model came at the end of the first phase of the mission. It entered in advanced phase in the second half of 2017.
Three city-based science and research institutes appointed new chiefs this year. In March, Dr Ravi Nanjundiah was appointed the director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, which had not had a full-time director since December 2015. The following month, Debashis Dutta took over as the director general of the city-headquartered Centre for Development of Advanced Computing. Meanwhile, Professor Jayant Udgaonkar took over as the second director of the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research, Pune, in November.
March for Science
Arguably for the first time, thousands of scientists took to streets across the country, including in Pune, on August 9, batting for greater support for scientific research, particularly in basic sciences. The march also received moral support from volunteers of the Maharashtra Andhashradha Nirmoolan Samiti, founded by late Narendra Dabholkar, with the sole aim of “fighting against the prevailing superstitions in scientific reasoning”.
Extreme weather events in city
While the country witnessed a normal monsoon, incidents of extreme rainfall did not spare Pune. For the first time, since 2001, rainfall recorded on October 13 touched 90 mm in just an hour. In a recent study, meteorologists revealed that the incident could be an indicator of an overall three-fold rise in extreme rainfall events over the central India regions.