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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Edition 19: National Monsoon Mission

India Meteorological Department organised the first South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune from 13 April to 15 april 2010. The even was a joint initiative with World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune (IITM).

Inaugurating the event, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Ajit Tyagi, Director General of IMD said, “The Ministry of Earth Sciences has proposed a national Monsoon Mission, where dynamic models for forecasting the monsoon will be developed over the next three to five-year .”

This is aimed to improve the accuracy of monsoon predictions by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The focus of this mission will chiefly be on seasonal forecast, but the mission will also include aspects of short-range three days and medium-range forecasts.

According to Tyagi, “The currently operational model for long-range or seasonal forecast used by the IMD is not a dynamic one but a statistical one. Statistical model uses the relationship of eight parameters measuring atmosphere, ocean, and land conditions in various parts of the globe with the Indian monsoon” Dynamic weather models use supercomputers to simulate the weather at a particular time and have reduced estimate to days or weeks ahead.

Monsoon Prediction
In view of IMD’s forecasts missing the target in recent past, the need for changing forecasting module has been outlined by experts. Last year, IMD could not predict the rainfall deficiency. Instead, it predicted above average rainfall.

This aspect was the most useful outcome of the meet. Southwest monsoon plays a very crucial role in the entire socio-economic fabric of South Asia, critically affecting all walks of life. The southwest monsoon (June-September) rainfall accounts for 75-90% of the annual rainfall of the most of the countries of the region. The summer monsoon rainfall is also important for hydroelectric power generation and meeting out drinking water requirements. Thus, being essentially driven by the agricultural growth, the economies of all South Asian countries are inextricably tied to the performance of the summer monsoon. Monsoon prediction and outlook is therefore a shared challenge for South Asian nations.

In the concluding session on Thursday, chaired by Dr. Rupkumar Kolli, chief of weather forecasting and water, WMO, the experts said that this year the rainfall in South Asian countries will be average. El-NiƱo effect, temperature of Arabian sea and other factors were taken into consideration to arrive at this conclusion. This has come as a welcome news for us.


Concept of regional climate outlook forums (RCOFs) was conceived and given shape at the behest of the WMO. First and foremost mandate of RCOFs was to produce and disseminate a regional assessment (using a predominantly consensus-based approach) of the State of the regional climate for the upcoming season. Participating countries in such forums appreciates the potential of climate prediction and seasonal forecasting as a powerful development tool to help populations and decision-makers face the challenges posed by climatic variability and change.

In a meeting convened by WMO of the Directors General of the National Meteorological Services in South Asia and Permanent Representatives (PRs) of the respective countries with WMO, at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy, on August 6, 2009, the PRS have unanimously agreed to establish a South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF), to be implemented from 2010 onwards. WMO has agreed to assist in the coordination of SASCOF sessions initially, until a permanent arrangement is worked out. It has been agreed that the first session of SASCOF will be held by India and subsequent sessions will be hosted by the participant countries by rotation. It was also decided that the SASCOF will initially have exclusive focus on the summer monsoon, and the needs for covering other aspects of the sub-regional climate will be addressed in due course..

SASCOF-1 was hosted by IITM. The Forum is expected to provide a climate outlook for the coming summer monsoon season of 2010. Experts from the SASCOF member countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as several regional and global experts participated in the event. The forum includes appraisals of country perspectives, assessing capacity building needs, global and regional indicators, consensus outlook generation, issue and user interaction. The participating national climate experts received guidance in using, interpreting and downscaling global seasonal prediction products, and in developing a consensus outlook.

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