Even as the nationwide lockdown nears a month, it has not impacted weather and forecasting services in India, yet. However, the number of observations of some key weather parameters have been scaled down since April 1.
This was revealed by M Rajeevan, secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), during his webcast address on the occasion of 50th Earth Day celebrations organised by CSIR – National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) on Wednesday. He was speaking on ‘Earth’s response to COVID-19 pandemic’.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) are the major institutions under MoES tasked with bringing out weather forecasts for India. These institutions collate weather data from its dense network within the country, besides those from oceans and global weather observatories.
“As issuing weather forecast is an essential service, our works have not been much affected so far,” said Rajeevan, adding that observations from buoys and satellites have compensated for some missing observations.
IMD operates nearly 200 weather observatories, which are supported by 250 non-IMD run observatories in the country. Many automated weather observations, too, have been relaying data during the lockdown period, he added.
However, operations of some key weather instruments deployed at 54 stations have been scaled down since April 1. “These instruments are imported from South Korea. Due to the pandemic, we may not be able to procure the same… since more observations will be needed during the upcoming cyclone and monsoon seasons, we revised the number of observations since April 1,” said the MoES secretary.
He admitted that the observations relayed by aircraft had significantly reduced after many countries, including India, temporarily suspended aircraft and flight operations since the end of March.
Pollution levels in major Indian cities, too, have shown a steep fall post the lockdown. This included drop in levels of particulate matter (PM) 10 and PM 2.5, NOx, surface ozone and carbon monoxide.
Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad and Chennai saw a drop in PM 2.5 levels by 64 per cent, 54 per cent, 53 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, between March 25 and April 22. Similarly, the Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) recorded over the country revealed that the levels had fallen to negative, with significantly low AOD reported over Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar and Bangladesh.
Lower levels of surface ozone, known to trigger respiratory illnesses and affect those with compromised respiratory conditions, were recorded in the last four weeks.
On seismic observations, the senior scientist said a sharp fall in the noise spectra amplitudes were observed from Mumbai, Bhopal, Hyderabad and few more cities in recent days.
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