Author: Union Minister for Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan
I am very happy to inform that the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), is celebrating 10 years of service to the Nation and also the Foundation Day, on 27th July, 2016.
This ministry has the mandate to provide weather, climate, ocean and seismological services for public safety as well for socio-economic benefits. Another mandate is to explore the polar regions (Antarctic, Arctic) and Himalayas and the oceans for living and non-living resources. MoES was established in 2006 by bringing all the agencies of meteorological and ocean developmental activities under one umbrella. With the purpose of addressing holistically various aspects relating to earth system processes for improving forecasts of the weather, climate and various natural geo-hazards. Earth System Science Organization (ESSO), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is a knowledge enterprise in the Earth System Sciences for socio-economic benefits to the Nation.
Over the past few years, the quality of weather, climate, ocean and seismological services provided by this ministry has greatly improved. This is due to systematic efforts made in augmenting atmospheric, coastal and ocean observations and survey, geophysical observations, polar research, developing adequate modelling strategy, conducting cutting edge research and investing in human resources development.
Hon’ble Prime Minister has initiated many programs to enable our farmers to double their income. My ministry is committed to help the farming community to strengthen the present agro-meteorological services. At present, the agro-meteorological services are used by only about 30% of farmers in the country. Our reach to fishermen is also restricted to only about 40%. To close this gap, Ministry has taken several initiatives to improve the dissemination strategy to reach out to more farmers by increased registration for mobile based services and involving private industries, NGOs and social media. Further, farmers need weather forecasts and services at least at the Block level. At present, these forecasts are issued at district level. There are about 6600 administrative blocks in the country. Therefore, the ministry has set up targets to develop an advanced prediction system to generate Block level weather forecasts by 2019. For this, we need to further augment the observational network in the country, ideally one observation at every 25 Km.
We also need to adopt better modelling strategy with high resolution models to generate block level forecasts. Simultaneously, we need to upgrade the present computing resources to at least 10 times. Since the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like heavy rainfall, tropical cyclones, heat waves are likely to increase in future, the Ministry has planned to set up advanced multi-hazards early warning systems for disaster risk management for cyclones, storm surges, floods, droughts, heat waves, and air pollution emergencies. A regional climate service is also planned for monitoring, prediction and climate change assessments and applications on agriculture, water, energy, health and eco-systems. Scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune have developed an Earth System Model for making climate change assessments. For the first time, this model will participate in the next IPCC climate change assessment by providing global climate change scenarios.
It is heartening to receive feedback from actual users of our services. I am sharing three such feedback below :-
“I observed that the quality of the weather forecast has certainly improved over the years. I believe that the weather forecast cannot be 100 percent accurate every time. Even if it is 70% successful, it will be of great importance for us.”
– Shri Jai Narayan Agrawal, Village: Deori, Raipur
“I am highly satisfied with the quality of AAS bulletins issued by the Agro-meteorological department of the IGAU, Raipur. I am getting these bulletins biweekly at my residence, but I think extensive coverage of these bulletins by print and electronic media is good and useful to all “
Shri Dinesh Babaria, Village: Jaroda,Raipur
“… if we consider four major crops (wheat, paddy, cotton and sugarcane), farmers in the country made economic benefits exceeding Rs.42,000 crores by making use of the agro-meteorological advisories provided by the India Meteorological Department”
National Centre for Applied Economic Research Report, 2015
At present, agro-meteorological advisories are issued through 130 Agro-meteorological Field Units (AMFU) and advisories are provided for 636 districts of the country. Presently, around 1.91 crore farmers directly benefit by this service provided through SMS as compared to 0.5 Crores farmers in April 2014. As per third party assessment made by the National Centre for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), if we consider four major crops (wheat, paddy, cotton and sugarcane), farmers in the country made economic benefits exceeding Rs.42,000 crores by making use of the agro-meteorological advisories provided by the India Meteorological Department. There is a noteworthy improvement in warnings of severe weather, for example, there is an appreciable improvement in track and intensity forecasts of tropical cyclones and also heavy rainfall forecasts. Accurate forecasts of the recent two cyclones, Phailin and Hud Hudh saved thousands of human lives.
“I must congratulate the Indian Scientific Team for accurate prediction of Cyclone Hudhud saved thousands of lives.”
– Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister, addressing the Indian Science Congress, 3 January 2015, Mumbai on prediction of Cyclone HudHudh
The Hon’ble Prime Minister’s encouraging words motivates us to work harder to achieve our goals and targets.
Under the Monsoon Mission, a dynamical prediction system was developed and implemented for short-range to seasonal forecasts of monsoon. Last year, the ministry has predicted the deficient monsoon very accurately and timely. Based on this accurate forecasts, agricultural ministry has taken preventive measures to minimize the losses in agricultural production.
Scientists from India and UK on their joint mission to study South West Monsoon.
After the 2004 Tsunami event, which killed tens of thousands of people in the country, the ministry had setup a state-of-the-art Tsunami Warning system for the Indian Ocean Rim countries, which is now a world class facility. The Tsunami warning centre has a track record of zero per cent false alarms of Tsunamis. We also established advanced ocean services providing fishery services and ocean state forecasts to fishermen for increased productivity. This is based on advanced satellite data and high resolution ocean models. It is estimated that more than 3 lakh fishermen made huge economic benefits (over Rs 3000 crores annually) from the ocean services and ocean state forecasts being provided by the ministry.
To solve the drinking water problems in the islands of Lakhadweep, three desalination plants based on indigenously developed technology were installed to produce fresh water from sea water.
To explore deep ocean resources like polymetallic nodules, various subsystems for deep ocean mining operations have been developed and sea trials have been performed. MoES scientists made many ship cruises and ocean survey to explore living and non-living resources from the Indian Ocean.
Our Antarctic Program which started in 1982 continued with more scientific studies and exploration. The third station, Bharati (See Pics below) was commissioned in March 2012.
To explore Arctic and to understand its linkages to Indian climate, a new research station Himadri was commissioned (see the pic below)
A Midnight Sunrise at Himadri, India’s station at the Arctic
The seismological network for accurate monitoring of earthquakes has been further strengthened. A new specialized centre, the National Centre for Seismology was set up to facilitate more research and development in seismology. To meet the requirements of modelling, a High Performance Computing System with 1.2 Petaflop speed was installed in 2015. This system is now the second fastest computing system in the country.
In the last two years, significant goals have been achieved by the Ministry. However, there is still considerable scope for further accelerating these initiatives to enable the country to become a world leader in providing high quality services, and contribute to economic and societal benefits.
We also would like to be a leader in providing all possible services in Earth Sciences to developing countries in Asia and Africa. The Ministry has prepared the vision document for next 15 years (up to 2030) keeping in view the social goals set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
We are working on improving the quality of forecasts of ocean state, coastal water quality and coastal hazards. The present ocean observational network will be further strengthened, and a new ocean modelling strategy will be developed. A Costal Mission to understand and predict the effect of climate change on the Indian coasts is also planned in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change. A few coastal observatories along the Indian coasts will be set up to monitor coastal marine pollution. My Ministry is also taking many initiatives to support the Blue Economy by innovating, developing world class technologies for exploring and harnessing ocean resources like Energy and Minerals. We in the Ministry are planning to develop Ocean Thermal Energy plants in Lakshadweep islands, Deep Ocean Mining Systems, Manned Submersibles, Off-shore wind energy and off-shore cage cultures. The scientific activities in Antarctica, Arctic and the Himalayas will be further strengthened to enable research studies on the impact of global warming and climate change on the cryosphere system. There is a plan to develop a decision support system for Earthquakes to augment the present seismological network optimally for more accurate monitoring of Earthquakes and rapid dissemination of information. More research and developmental work will be taken up to understand the earthquake processes.