Monday, January 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Avalanche warning 5 days in advance
SASE project for upper air observatories
By Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 2 — To augment the weather forecast capability for fulfilling the Army’s strategic requirements regarding high-altitude operations, the Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE) has embarked on a programme to establish a number of upper air observatories along with surface observatories along the Himalayan frontier.

Under the project, the first of its kind in the world, three upper air observatories and 22 surface observatories are being established to generate high resolution meteorological data. Avalanche and weather forecast will hence be more “area specific” as compared to the present wide area “generalised” forecast, and will be up to five days in advance.

The SASE Director, Major-Gen K.C. Sharma, said this project had been sanctioned recently. “Though the entire project is expected to take up to five years to culminate, we will start delivering results from the second year itself,” he said. The first phase of the project will extend over north-western Himalayas.

The project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Army, India Meteorology Department (IMD) and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF). While the Army is the biggest user of the information provided by SASE observatories, general forecast will also be available to other agencies as well as to the local population.

The new observatories will be integrated with the existing weather stations being operated by the Army, the IMD, SASE and the Air Force. These observatories will have the capability of being remotely controlled by using special high-end work stations.

The upper air observatories involve sending hydrogen filled balloons fitted with special instruments to an altitude of 10 km to measure atmospheric conditions at specific intervals. At this altitude, the wind profile is not affected by the mountains and parameters recorded by instruments generate more specific information than those by surface observatories.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is the nodal agency for the project, which is expected to cost about Rs. 38 crore. The major chunk of financial resources are being contributed by SASE, a laboratory under the DRDO and the IMD. The other agencies providing financial support are the Army and the NCMRWF.

The establishment of this “mesoscale numerical weather forecast model’’, will enable weather forecast for a grid of 20 km by 20 km with a resolution of about 20 km.

At present, the IMD has a mandate of forecasting weather at a “synoptic scale (150 to 1000 km), while the NCMRWF is using a course resolution (about 160 km) global model to issue medium range (3 - 7 days) forecast. It is also using a 50 km resolution regional spectral model in conjugation with the global system.

This programme comes on the heels of another project under which SASE is setting up another 11 automatic weather stations along the Dras-Kargil axis for providing weather and avalanche forecasts for military operations.

Besides, SASE’s long-term programme on “Development of Mountain Meteorology in the Himalayas” includes setting up a Mountain Met Centre at Srinagar and its sub-centres at Siachen Base Camp, Thoise, Nubra Valley, Udhampur and Mandi for weather and avalanche forecast.


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