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MoES launches Winter Fog Experiment 2016-17 

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has launched Winter Fog Experiment (WIFEX 2016-17) to study presence of extended periods of fog in northern parts of the country.

It is an intensive ground-based measurement to understand different physical and chemical features of Fog will be conducted at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), Delhi.

What are issues related to Fog in India?

Fog is a visible mass consisting of cloud water droplets suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface.  In India, presence of heavy and extended period fog in the northern region (world’s most densely populated region) is one of the major weather hazards, impacting road, aviation transportation, economy and public life. Maximum fog occurrence is seen over the Northwest region. In India, due to fog poor visibility (< 1000m) per year mostly occurs during the December-February time period.  Recent studies conducted during the past 10-15 years on fog in India have prompted significant socio-economic concern due to increase in frequency, persistence and intensity of fog occurrence over the northern parts of the country.  The main reasons for growing fog occurrence are land use changes and increasing pollution in the region.

  • WIFEX aims to achieve better understanding of fog life cycle and ultimately improve capability in fog prediction.
  • It will help to develop better now-casting (next 6 hours) and forecasting of winter fog system on various time and spatial scales.
  • It will also develop mechanism to reduce adverse impact of Fog on aviation, transportation and economy, and loss of human life due to accidents.
  • It will lead to improved understanding to develop reliable forecasting models and observational techniques for accurate prediction of Fog events.
  • It will help to study physical and chemical characteristics of fog, meteorological factors responsible for its genesis, intensity and dissipation which are poorly understood
  • Similarly, it will also add light to the meteorological conditions like humidity, wind and synoptic conditions which are also not well studied.


UN appoints Mary Robinson, Macharia Kamau as special envoys for El Nino, Climate

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Mary Robinson and Macharia Kamau as UN’s Special Envoys for El Nino and Climate.

These appointments come at a time of great urgency as the drought and flooding associated with El Niño have created massive needs across the world.

The El Niño has worst affected four regions of East Africa, Southern Africa, Central America and the Pacific.

Key facts

  • These UN Special Envoys will provide the leadership required to tackle challenges and responses to climate change and El Niño in order to scale up our humanitarian response.
  • Mary Robinson: She is former President of Ireland. Previously she had worked as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and as UN special envoy for climate change.
  • Macharia Kamau: He is Kenyan diplomat. Presently, he is working as ambassador to the United Nations. He is also former president of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Board.
  • He also had served as co-chair of the UN General Assembly working group on sustainable development goals.

El Niño: It is a weather phenomenon, which occurs every two to seven years. It affects rainfall patterns and causes both drought and flooding.


IMD changes language in weather forecasting

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has changed the languages and also re-defined terms that are not scientifically precise in weather forecasting.

In this regard, IMD has issued official notification to do away with outdated language to avoid communication gap with the civil administration so they can be more realistic in case of upcoming weather events.

IMD has reviewed the terminology and factors determining each of these terms based on supporting observational data.

Following are the changes

Classification all-India rainfall into five categories:

  • Normal: ± 10 per cent of the long period average (lpa).
  • Below normal: Rainfall lower than 10 per cent below average of the lpa.
  • Above normal: Rainfall greater than 10 per cent above average of the lpa.
  • Deficient year: Rainfall deficit between 10 and 20 per cent up to 40 per cent of India’s spatial area.
  • Large deficient year: Rainfall deficit of over 10 per cent across more than 40 per cent of India’s area.

Criteria to classify seasonal rainfall

  • The rules have been changed to classify seasonal rainfall. IMD has introduced 6 new categories replacing old four rainfall categories (excess, normal, deficient and scanty). New categories are
  • Large excess: 60 per cent and above.
  • Excess: between 20 per cent and 59 per cent.
  • Normal: minus 19 per cent to plus 19 per cent;
  • Deficient: minus 20 per cent to minus 59 per cent.
  • Large deficient: below 60 per cent
  • No Rain: 0 per cent.

IMD also has standardized key terms

  • Heat wave: Temperatures greater than 4.50C above usual temperatures for the region.
  • Severe heat wave: Temperatures greater than or equal to 470C.
  • Cold wave: Temperatures less than 4.50C above usual temperatures for the region.
  • Severe cold wave: Minimum temperature is 20C or lower.