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IMD to release Malaria and Chikungunya Alerts

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has announced that it is working on a forecasting system that will give a 15-day warnings on the likelihood of a malaria or chikungunya outbreak across different regions of the country.

Salient Highlights

The services are aimed at providing custom, weather-related information to cope with challenges of a global warming and its associated impact of weather. Instances of extreme rainfall could mean instances of humid conditions and water logging that could precipitate vector-borne disease outbreaks.

IMD will release five-day and 15-day forecasts of heat-waves, cold waves and disease outbreaks.

IMD will offer this service by teaming up with the Medical Council of India and the Red Cross Society. IMD will customize the dynamical model for generating this service. The IMD’s National Climate Centre in Pune will be reorganised to offer such climate services. At present, the pune Centre is tasked with forecasting the monsoon and documenting monsoon-related statistics.

IMD is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology in India. It functions under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It headquartered in New Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India.

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South-West Monsoon to be normal: IMD

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) has predicted a normal monsoon this year with a rainfall of 96% of the long-period average (LPA). Rainfall between 96% and 104% of LPA is considered as normal. The country had to suffer back-to-back droughts in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, rainfall received was 3% less than the 89 cm average despite IMD’s prediction of ‘above normal’ rains. IMD will come up with the regional forecasts in early June.

Reason

The IMD has attributed the projection to a weakening of El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). Weakening of El Nino and positive IOD conditions are expected to be favourable for a normal monsoon.

The El Nino is characterised by a warming of sea surface temperature along the equatorial Pacific Ocean. El Nino is known to dry up monsoon rains every 6 out of 10 years. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) refers to a swing in the sea surface temperatures in the western and eastern Indian oceans.

Significance

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) prediction of a normal monsoon will boost the sentiments of stocks. This will put an end to the almost continuous earnings downgrade witnessed in the markets in recent times. The poor earnings had transformed Indian stocks to be one among the most expensive stocks in the world.

The forecast for normal monsoon is expected to result in three to four per cent growth in farm gross domestic product (GDP). Normal monsoon will help in agricultural production and ease inflationary pressures.

The forecast for normal rains is also beneficial for consumer-oriented sectors such as two-wheelers, FMCG, banking and packaged consumer goods that are the worst hit owing to demonetisation. With an increase in farm and non-farm wages, these sectors are expected to witness growth. Demonetisation prevented these sectors from reaping the benefits of good rains last year.

Other benefits of normal monsoon

  • Less drawdown of water from reservoirs and the instances of drinking water crisis will be less.
  • Improved power situation owing to more power generated in hydel power projects and usage of fewer pumps for irrigation.
  • Less pressure on the RBI to raise interest rates
  • Economic growth will get strengthened.
  • The occurrence of drought will be less. The need for importing oilseeds and pulses will be less.

IMD forecasts

The IMD was set up in 1875. It produced its first monsoon forecast in 1886 after the famine of the 1870s. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issues forecasts for the country as a whole and five regions.

IMD uses a statistical model that uses historical relationships between rainfall and six to eight predictors such as sea-surface temperatures and southeasterly winds over the Indian ocean etc. IMD also uses the data obtained from radar, observatories, ships, sensors and satellites for forecast predictions. The statistical method was introduced by British in the 1920s.

Last year, IMD announced that it is replacing the statistical method with dynamic model, which is based on a U.S. model tweaked for India. IMD also announced that it is spending $60 million on a new supercomputer to improve the accuracy of Monsoon predictions.

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Renowned Meteorologist Dev Raj Sikka passes away

Renowned Meteorologist and former director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (Pune) Dev Raj Sikka passed away. He was 85.

He is famously known as Monsoon Man and the Father of Indian Meteorology. He was first proposed a link between the El Nino phenomenon and the Indian monsoon in 1982, but that time less importance was given to it.

About Dev Raj Sikka

  • He was born on March 1, 1932 in Jhang, Maghiana in Pre-partition India (now in Panjab, Pakistan) and later migrated to India after the partition.
  • He had completed his Masters in Science (MSc) in Physical Chemistry from Agra University and joined Indian Meteorological Department (IMP) in 1954.
  • He joined Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune in 1964 and retired from the same as the director of the institute.
  • He is credited with being among the pioneers of developing weather models and computer-modelling techniques to forecast the monsoon.
  • He had actively participated in research and development of Monsoon Dynamics, , Prediction of Weather and Climatology, Tropical Meteorology, Atmospheric Chemistry and Air-Sea interaction.
  • He had served as Chairman of the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ Monsoon Mission, a programme to improve monsoon-related forecasts.
  • He also had served as chairman of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) committee on Climate Change and also of Research and Advisory Council of National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast.
  • Awards and Honours: IMD’s Lifetime time achievement award and Sir Gilbert Walker Gold Medal (2010). 

About El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

It is complex climatic and weather phenomenon observed due see-sawing of temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. It is among the most significant factors that meteorologists scan to forecast the performance of the Indian monsoon. 6 out of 10 El Nino-years have been associated with below-normal rainfall over India.

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