Multi-million pound study aims to accurately predict Indian monsoon

Monsoon is very critical for Indian farmers and scientists very well understand this aspect. Therefore, British and Indian scientists have decided to release underwater robots into the Bay of Bengal, so they could have better idea on the Indian monsoon.

The efforts will be carried out as a part of the multi-million pound study of the monsoon that has started southern India last week. As a part of the project, researchers will also fly a plane packed with scientific equipment present over the bay to measure the atmosphere.

With better forecasting, things will get better for more than 200 million farmers and agricultural laborers in India who have been suffering from drought. Scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) will release seven underwater robots from an Indian ship next week.

The robots will spend a month moving through a southern section of the bay. They will measure temperature, salinity and currents.

At the same time, researchers from the University of Reading and climate experts in India will use instruments on board the plane flying from the southern city of Bangalore in order to measure health and moisture in the air.

Study’s lead researcher Adrian Matthews said, “The Indian monsoon is notoriously hard to predict. It is a very complicated weather system and the processes are not understood or recorded in science. Nobody has ever made observations on this scale during the monsoon season itself so this is a truly groundbreaking project”.

Condition is quite tough in India when it comes to agriculture as more than 50% of India’s farms are dependent on the annual rains. In 2009, India suffered its worst drought in decades despite the fact that the meteorological department predicted about a normal monsoon.

The study paper published in the scientific journal Phys News informed…

“Scientists from Britain and India will release underwater robots into the Bay of Bengal in a bid to more accurately predict the Indian monsoon critical to millions of farmers, they said on Tuesday. Researchers will also fly a plane packed with scientific equipment over the bay to measure the atmosphere as part of the multi-million pound study of the monsoon which hit southern India last week.”

The robots, which have computers onboard and look like miniature yellow submarines, will spend a month moving through a southern section of the bay, to measure temperature, salinity and currents. “The Indian monsoon is notoriously hard to predict. It is a very complicated weather system and the processes are not understood or recorded in science,” lead researcher Adrian Matthews said. “Nobody has ever made observations on this scale during the monsoon season itself so this is a truly groundbreaking project.”

More than half of India’s farms lack irrigation for their crops, meaning they depend almost entirely on the annual rains that fall in intense bursts from June until September. More precise predictions of the monsoon, that sweeps up from the Indian Ocean which extends into the bay, can also help hundreds of millions better prepare for droughts and floods. Beamed backed to scientists via satellite signals, the information will be used to create computer models of the ocean to determine how it affects weather and rainfall over India.

India suffered its worst drought in decades in 2009 despite the meteorological department’s predictions of a normal monsoon. In April, researchers in Germany said they had found a way to more accurately predict the start of the monsoon based on an analysis of regional weather data. India’s meteorology office is also reportedly spending millions of dollars on a new super computer to predict how the monsoon is likely to develop each year.

According to a report in Engadget News by Matt Brian, “In India, monsoons are big business. If the country has a healthy rainy season, its agricultural industry thrives and helps account for a fifth of the total value of its goods and services. It’s vitally important for meteorologists to predict when those rains will come, so instead of utilizing numerical or statistical predictions — which once failed to predict India’s biggest drought in 40 years in 2009 — the country is spending $60 million on a supercomputer that could give farmers the advance notice they need to plant crops and increase yields.”

Government scientists hope to have the supercomputer ready before monsoon season next year, which typically lasts between June and September and provides the country with 80 percent of its total annual rainfall. As one of the biggest producers of many fresh fruits and vegetables, but also rice and wheat, the machine could boost India’s farming output by up to 15 percent, justifying the cost of the new supercomputer in just one season.

A report published in the Washington Post said, “The seasonal monsoon, which hits the region between June and September, delivers more than 70 percent of India’s annual rainfall. Its arrival is eagerly awaited by hundreds of millions of subsistence farmers across the country, and delays can ruin crops or exacerbate drought. Yet, the rains are hard to predict, and depend on a complex interplay between global atmospheric and oceanic movements that is not yet fully understood. They can be affected by weather phenomena such as El Nino. And scientists say they may also become even more erratic with increasing climate change and even air pollution.”

As part of the newly launched $11 million study, scientists from British university will spend a month at sea releasing seven underwater robots from an Indian research ship across a 400-kilometer (250-mile) stretch of water. The torpedo-shaped robots will glide through the water, monitoring its salinity, temperature and current before surfacing and transmitting data to a satellite.

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