Last year, 1,538 people died across India due to erratic weather conditions. Telangana and Bihar had the worst casualty rate, with nearly 600 people from these two states dying due to adverse weather conditions such as a severe heat wave and floods, respectively. In 2015, as many as 2,300 people had died across the country due to the severe heat wave. To ensure that no more deaths take place due to extreme weather conditions, the India Meteorology Department (IMD) has switched to a new, indigenously developed weather prediction model. The new model, which helps experts predict extreme weather conditions and issue area-specific forecasts for the entire country, has already been made operational.
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The IMD has started using NCEP-Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2) for issuing seasonal and extended range forecasts. Not only has the weather agency strengthened its systems, it will also be able to issue forecasts in advance, sometimes as much as nine months in advance.
“This is the first model developed entirely by Indian institutions under the MoES. All inputs fed into the system are the ones that suit Indian weather conditions, making it even more reliable for forecasts,” said A K Sahai, senior scientist and head of climate research and services at IMD, Pune. Until now, weather models used to borrow data from international agencies, which would then be tailored to Indian weather conditions, before issuing the forecasts. Seasonal forecasts issued by the IMD were only given three to four months in advance.
The IMD, while operating this model, will focus on predicting heat waves, which have claimed a lot of lives. Apart from studying temperature variations in the run-up to summer this year, authorities have said the model will be run to its full capacity by June this year.
CFSv2 was obtained from the US-based National Centre for Environment Prediction (NCEP), with the model strategy being developed by the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), as part of the Monsoon Mission project undertaken by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
The work towards developing the model started in 2012 and since then, numerous trials and tests with various Indian weather conditions have been carried out.
“The model has high accuracy levels and we are also working on improving the same during this operational phase,” said an official who has been involved in the development of the model.
This model is being supported by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS) with all the requisite ocean-related data, while the relevant atmospheric data is being provided by the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMWF), added the official. The operationalisation of this model comes at a time when the first phase of the mission is coming to an end this year.
Currently, weather experts are using this model to study the daily temperature variations.