India to establish regional climate centre for Himalayas

PTI New Delhi | Updated on December 15, 2020

Mrutunjay Mohapatra, Director-General, India Meteorological Department

The facility to benefit neighbouring countries as well: IMD chief

India is planning to establish a regional climate centre for the Himalayan mountain region which will not only provide weather-related services within the country but also to its neighbours, India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General Mrutunjay Mohapatra said on Monday.

Mohapatra said the work for establishing such a centre has already begun and talks are also on with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

China is also building a similar regional climate centre on its side of the Himalayas, he said.

Mountain region weather services

Addressing a webinar on ‘Weather and Climate Services over Mountains Region’, Mohapatra said India has hilly terrains -- the eastern ghats, western ghats along the east and the west coast and the Myanmar hills in the northeast.

Considering the size of the Himalayas and its role in India’s hydrology, meteorology, disaster management, ecosystem and many other activities, the world has correctly recognised it as the ‘third pole of the world’, he noted.

As a part of the ecosystem, as a part of the land, ocean, atmosphere system, the mountains, including the Himalayas and all other hill ranges play a significant role, Mohapatra stressed.

Being a data sparse region, the relative observational network is limited as compared to the plain ranges of the country, Mohapatra observed.

He said there is a scope to improve further the physical understanding of various processes occurring in these mountain regions, their modelling and hence the forecasting and warning services.

“At the same time, we have to develop the climate applications scenarios, especially with respect to water sector, industries, tourism, agriculture, specifically in these mountain regions.

“We are planning to establish a regional climate centre for the mountain region and it will be providing advice not only to India but also to the entire region in the Himalayas,” he said.

The RCC is likely to come up in Delhi, Mohapatra later told PTI. The RCC will provide weather-related services specially for the farmers and tribes residing there.

He added that Himansh, the country’s remote and high altitude research centre, established in 2016 by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, will also undertake weather research activities in the Himalayas.

Weather prediction over the Himalayas

M Rajeevan, Secretary, MoES, said as far as the Himalayas is concerned, it offers many challenges in weather and climate services.

He pointed out that weather prediction over the Himalayas poses a serious challenge for prediction models given complex topography. Modelling of mountain regions may be considered for collaborative research under the Monsoon Mission, he said.

“The IMD should come out with a special verification strategy for our forecasts and climate services which are to be provided to mountain regions,” Rajeevan said.

He observed that the northwest Himalayas get more precipitation during the winter season, while the rest of the region receives maximum rains during the monsoon.

As far as climate change is concerned, the Himalayas need more attention, and this region is warming much faster than the world, Rajeevan cautioned.

“Melting of glaciers is another major concern. A changing climate could bring in more devastating effects on the fragile biodiversity system of the Himalayas. It could impact agriculture, food and health over the region,” Rajeevan said.

Mohapatra said a lot of initiatives have been taken by the MoES and IMD for augmentation of observational network with the deployment of doppler radars and automated weather stations and with the development of region-specific numerical models and application activities with improvement in forecast activities and warning services.

Rajeevan said appreciating the needs of northwest Himalayas, the IMD has started installing weather radars over this region.

“Already three radars have come and two more will come up in another one month. A total of 10 radars will be installed, latest, by next year. In addition, surface instruments like Automatic Weather Stations, snow gauges are also being installed,” the MoES secretary said.

A similar network for northeast

The IMD will install a similar network over northeast India which is also very close to the Himalayas, Rajeevan added.

Mohapatra said the disasters in the mountainous regions play a dominant role in deciding socio-economic activities.

He said natural calamities in the Himalayas like the earthquakes are well-recognised --- the heavy rainfall leading to cloud bursts and also many other phenomena that affect the local agriculture, local industry, local bio-system, local lives.

“We also have various types of disaster phenomenon in other hill ranges like western and eastern ghats. In recent times, we all have witnessed that because of the monsoon rains, the landslides, which have generally been realised in the Himalayan ranges or the northeast states... how disastrous landslides have been realised in Karnataka and Kerala states,” Mohapatra said.

He added that similar landslides have taken place when cyclones have crossed Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

Published on December 15, 2020

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