Some achievements of the Ministry of Earth Sciences during 2014-15


Cyclone Forecast:  There has been a remarkable improvement in the prediction of cyclone, and extreme events as demonstrated in the recent   events    such as landslides in Uttarakhand and floods in Jammu-Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat due to intense precipitations and cyclones Ashobaa & Komen (2015). Two very severe cyclones, HudHud and Nilopher, were predicted well in advance and sufficient time was available to respond. All aspects of cyclone genesis, intensity, track, landfall as well as associated rainfall, gale wind and storm surge were predicted accurately. The forecast for the HudHud was appreciated by the Prime Minister. The cyclone track, landfall point and intensity forecast errors have improved to 107 km, 60 km and 11 knots during 2010-14 against 140 km, 110 km and 13 knots during 2005-09 respectively for 24 hours lead period. Extreme heavy precipitations in the Kashmir valley were predicted 3 days in advance and state administration was alerted. This has been accomplished by virtue of augmentation of observation system networks, enhancement of the computing capability and increase of data availability and implementation of high-resolution global models. Probabilistic forecasts of rainfall/snowfall and the strike probability of tropical cyclone have been introduced in the operational forecast products of NCMRWF.


Monsoon Prediction: For the first time, dynamic models were employed on real-time basis to predict quantitative precipitation during the southwest monsoon season.  The long range forecast revised in August 2014 for the season (June-September) rainfall for the country as a whole was 87% against forecasted rainfall of (88 ±4) % of LPA for the year 2014 and 86% against the forecasted rainfall in June 2015 of (88 ±4) % of LPA for the year 2015 .  The onset of Monsoon over Kerala as well All India Monthly forecast for July and August was predicted accurately.


Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa:   Agromet Advisory Services Programme of the Ministry has a direct impact on agricultural production. Weather information based advisories before various stages of farming provided to 11.34 million farmers in the country covering 633 Districts of 23 States through Kisan Portal and PPP mode. Farmers’Awareness Programmes conducted to popularize the service also benefit from the advisories. In addition, in collaboration with Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR), around 25 Panchayats have also been identified to distribute agromet advisories and rain gauges for rainfall monitoring on pilot basis.


Infrastructure Facilities: A High Altitude Cloud Physics Lab (HACPL) at Mahabaleshwar to study micro physical characteristics of aerosols and clouds and associated environmental conditions. A large scale Campaign including aircraft and ground based measurements was organized over the Ganga Basin and Maharashtra to study cloud-aerosol interactions .Towards this, high performance computation facilities have been substantially augmented by upgrading the existing 170 Teraflop to storage archival capacity of 1000 Teraflop, which is ranked at 36th position in the world’s top 500 and first in the country.  350 TF Bhaskara HPC was dedicated to the nation by Minister for Earth Sciences on 2nd June, 2015. For the first time in India an indigenous climate model has been developed for studying variability and predictability of monsoon on seasonal, inter-annual and decadal time scale.

A first version of the IITM Earth System Model was developed indigenously for studies on climate change and making regional climate change scenarios. Additional research work to further improve fidelity of the model is going on.   A paradigm shift in numerical modelling activity for operational weather forecast has been achieved. The atmospheric Model of Global Forecasting System (GFS) with a special resolution of 18 km was set up which is considerable improvement from 50 km to 18 km resolution. The resolution of global unified model was increased to 17 km and the regional model to 4 km, which have resulted in forecast improvements. An advanced Ensemble Prediction System (~33 km/L70; 44 members) for quantitatively assessing the uncertainty in the deterministic forecasts and generating probabilistic forecasts was also implemented. The upgraded data assimilation scheme using the flow-dependent statistics calculated from an ensemble of short-range forecasts and ingestion of new Indian satellite data have shown forecast improvements.

 A Seafront Facility of 150 acres along the Nellore Coast has been acquired for carrying out Ocean Technology testing and demonstration activities which include establishment of an offshore numerical tank, ballast water treatment facility etc.


Capacity Development:  A set of four international and four national workshops/training programs were organized by International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography established at INCOIS, Hyderabad   for promotion of capacity building in the countries of the Indian Ocean region. Two Similar regional workshops were conducted in the field of atmospheric science and services for BIMSTEC countries. IITM, Pune in collaboration with ICTP, Trieste, Italy has organized a Targeted Training Activity on Monsoon Modelling during February 2015 at Pune. The third batch of CAT Students has completed the 18-month training program and became eligible for appointment as Scientist-B/C at different MoES Institutions.


Polar Research: –   The 34th Expedition to Maitri and Bharati, Antarctica and 8th expedition to the Himadri, Svalbard were launched for glaciological and atmospheric investigations.  The President of India interacted with the Indian Scientists based in Himandri through video-conferencing. First Ocean moored observatory IndArc for time series measurement of ocean parameters in the Kongsforden, Svalbard, Norway, deployed in July 2014 was successfully retrieved on 15th July 2015. This data recorded continuously for one year is a major achievement in the area of in-situ observation. New Arctic Observatory (IndArc II) with additional biogeochemical sensors & acoustic sensors was deployed successfully on 19th July, 2015 in Arctic. India successfully commenced operations at 3rd Indian Permanent Station Bharati, in the Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica which would give a major thrust to study in the field of glaciology, atmosphere, paleoclimate and Polar biology. India has been accorded observed status in the Arctic Council in recognition of India’s scientific contribution and endeavour in Polar research. Polar ROV “PROve” was deployed on 10th of February 2015 at Priyadarshini Lake, Antarctica. System functionality was successfully tested and it recorded the lake bed videography which shows the abundance of algal mats clearly. Also PROve was successfully tested at site near ice shelf in Antarctica. The Ice Shelf is clearly seen from the Scanning SONAR and scientific data is collected using the sensors.


Ocean Survey and Exploration:  India’s application for site allotment of about 10000 in the Indian Ocean with exclusive rights for exploration was approved in the 20th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) held during 14-25 July, 2014 at Kingston, Jamaica. ISBA is a body established under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea responsible for exploration and exploitation of resources in the seabed lying in international water. Polymetallic Sulphides in the Ocean Ridges containing Copper, Zinc, Silver, Gold, Platinum and rare earth elements, constitute significant and important future mineral resources. The Indian Site located near the Rodriguez Triple Junction of the Indian Ocean Ridge in the South West Indian Ocean was identified based on earlier investigations and research work.


Geoscience:    Completion of the Preparatory phase of scientific deep drilling in Koyna and identified sites for pilot boreholes, 4.5 km deep. Finalization of Science Plan and team selection for deep drilling in the Arabian Sea to study evolution of Himalayas and origin of monsoon was done. Action was initiated for setting up of National Centre for Seismology for addressing all the seismological aspect in an integrated way.  Operationalized the Integrated Seismic and GNSS Network and Data Centre for online access to data from 200 remote seismic and GNNS stations.


International Cooperation: Five agreements have been signed with international agencies and agencies of countries such as Japan, USA, Kuwait, Norway, and UNESCO for cooperation in various fields of earth sciences. A LoI was signed between Ministry of Earth Sciences and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, USA for cooperation in research.


Initiation of New Programs:

Himalayan Meteorology program will be launched to improve observations, both meteorological as well as snow and ice related, in the region including on glaciers and snow-clad regions. The capabilities for nowcasting for expeditions, pilgrimage, tourism, etc. also to be developed.


Severe Weather Warning System: Severe weather such as dust storms, extremely heavy rainfall, cloud burst, fog, cyclones, etc. affect different parts of the country regularly. A high resolution (1.5 km) convective scale regional model has set up for generating forecasts of severe/extreme weather events and trial runs are being carried out. (iii) Offshore numerical tank will be established with a hydrodynamic simulation facility with virtual reality for testing of offshore structures/systems.


Marine Living Resources:  Annual trawl-ban being implemented as part of sustainable management of fishery resources available in the Indian Coasts has been observed to have significant effect on the recovery of macro benthic organisms particularly polychaetes and crustaceans in the inner shelf region where demersal trawling is intense. The observed values of biomass during the pre and post-ban period indicate an increase of total biomass almost double as that of initial values in the depth range between 30 to 50 m. The study exemplifies the importance of the trawl ban imposed during the monsoon to maintain resilience of coastal ecosystems and its socio-economic services. A new biodiversity hot spot “Terrace off Trivandrum” has been identified along the depth contours of 1200 m at South West Coast of India with an unusually high abundance of deep sea fishery resources as high as 1.2 tonne catch per unit effort.


Ocean Science Technology and Services: Two Indo-US joint expeditions were accomplished in the Bay of Bengal for studying ocean mixing and Monsoon experiments. Forecast on potential fishing zones and ocean state for India and Indian Ocean countries. Maps for long-term shoreline changes for Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were also accomplished.  Ocean Information and Advisory services are now extended for Tuna Fisheries (daily) and Coral Bleach Alerts (once in 3 days). Online Oil Spill Advisories, Ocean State Forecasts along shipping routes as well as for Maldives, Seychelles and Sri Lanka are now provided on regular basis. Indigenously designed and developed Polar Research Vehicle was deployed at Antarctica successfully for scientific observations. Completed (i) preparation of Atlas for the Indian Coast and development (ii) deployment of indigenous drifters to measure sea surface temperature, pressure and currents having INSAT communication and (iii) design of the Offshore Reef with beach nourishment for coastal protection at Puducherry. (iv)  teams of scientists retrieved a lost heavy weight torpedo “Varunastra” of Indian Navy from the sea bed at a depth of 168 metres with the support of ORV Sagar Nidhi. This is the first time in the country that the torpedo is recovered from such depths. (v)  Autonomous Coring System (ACS) qualified at 1000m water depth in the KG Basin and drilling done upto ~24m below the sea floor.  (vi) Open sea cage culturing was successfully demonstrated at Olaikuda and fishermen self-help group successfully cultured and harvested 7.0 tonnes of cobia in the open sea cage. A societal training programme on open sea cage culture was conducted on 4th November 2014 at Rameshwaram and 85 participants including fishermen, self-help group and entrepreneurs participated.

A National Centre for Seismology (NCS) has been established as an attached office of the Ministry by consolidating all seismological related activities of IMD and MoES and reorganizing them under NCS.

NCS has since been disseminating earthquake information to various designated authorities associated with disaster management, relief and rescue operations including media. At present the network is upgraded and augmented and information is provided within 10 minutes of occurrence of the earthquake. Work is on for establishing early warning system for the same.  Seismic microzonation of NCT Delhi on 1:10K scale has been completed.