A technologically advanced series of experiments, to study and identify potent clouds meant for seeding, has just started this monsoon. The three-year long experiment, by scientists from the city-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), will use a dual polarised C-band German-made radar, which has a range of 200 kilometres around its installed location. This will provide researchers a better opportunity to explore clouds and rainfall over this area. On the basis of initial studies in 2014-2015, the team has zeroed down on studying clouds formed over areas between Solapur and Latur in Maharashtra, which fall under the rainshadow region and receive less amount of rain.
Confirming that the experiment has started and is expected to go on till 2020, Thara Prabhakaran, senior IITM scientist and Project Director of Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment (CAIPEEX), said, “Currently, installation of necessary ground-based instruments are underway and we are hopeful about taking radar observations from July this year.”
While this year there will be no airborne observations, scientists are gearing up to study the clouds by using satellites, radar observations, balloon-borne and other ground-based instruments during monsoon. Since a dense network of rain gauges, to measure the amount of rainfall, is needed to gather regular data for monitoring and evaluation, 100 rain gauges would be installed in the area. Of these, 20 have already been set up.
IITM has signed an MoU with the Sinhagad Institute in Solapur, to get an appropriate site to set up the radar in its campus, and make it operational during the experiment. When asked about the radar’s specialities, experts said it was one-of-its-kind, available for cloud and rainfall research in India. A similar equipment owned by the India Meteorology Department (IMD) is operational in the national capital, and another one in Jaipur.
“Since this radar possesses dual polarisation, it will not only be possible to study the inner features of the cloud better, such as to differentiate between ice and water clouds, but it will also enable us to track their movement. Knowing these features, we will be able to accurately predict the cloud’s behaviour and probable precipitation areas,” explained the project director. Scientists will observe water droplets, ice crystals, and particles in the mixed phase of liquid and ice present inside the cloud more accurately, and will be able to track the seeding effect on rainfall.