Snow harvesting,unmanned vehicles with sensors for collection of data and developing a cryospheric simulation laboratory are some of the proposals that Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) has in the pipeline. The initiatives will be undertaken as part of the Five Year Plan of SASE.
Ashwagosha Ganju,Director SASE informed that the concept of snow harvesting will be introduced at Lahaul Spiti. The residents of the area where it snows heavily complain that when the snow starts melting the water is not available to them for daily use. Methods to retain snow on the slopes will be devised, he said while adding,It is proposed that embankments could be made so that snow can be saved. The water can later be used by the residents. Methods to stop snow redistribution will also be looked into.
Another project that SASE will take up is setting up of a cryospheric stimulation laboratory. Experiments involving snow are currently carried out in the open where conditions cannot be controlled. The lab will provide a controlled environment so that experiments can be replicated. The infrastructure project will be constructed at Manali.
Ganju said that the methods of predicting avalanches is also quite accurate. We have 82 to 86 per cent accuracy when it comes to predicting avalanches. Earlier these could be predicted 24 hours in advance. Now predictions can be made three days in advance. Apart from automatic weather stations,data is also collected through remote sensing devices, he said.
Joint Director of SASE M R Bhutiyani said that inhospitable terrain of the Himalayas makes it a challenge to collect data. He informed that using remote sensors the process of data collection has become more efficient.
SASE will be devising an unmanned vehicle that will have sensors. The vehicle will be used on the slopes of the Himalayas for collection of data including volume of glaciers and weak layer of the snow pack. Instead of people having to be present at the tough terrains,the data would be collected more easily. Ground Penetration Radar would also be used for this purpose. An aerostat with sensors has also been used to collect data. SASE has also conducted tests for controlling avalanches for keeping the highways free of blockage.
Snowman to collect data remotely
Rajiv Das,a scientist at SASE has in collaboration with a Mumbai firm developed a remote operated vehicle that will be used for data collection in hilly and hazardous areas. The Snowman will be capable of traversing harsh climates to collect data and will be able to negotiate slopes of up to 45 degrees. The vehicle is likely to be tested next month.