By Casey Monteiro
Alert! Very heavy rainfall expected in the next 24 hours.
If you were going to dig out your umbrella and raincoat, hold on! That was just a sample of a weather alert that is frequently issued during the monsoons.
These alerts and weather forecasts are issued by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). The services of meteorology is not restricted to any political boundary because of the nature of the weather. There is an international cooperation with data regarding weather conditions.
March 23 is celebrated as World Meteorological Day commemorating the establishment of the World Meteorological Organisation, the UN's specialised agency for meteorology and operational hydrology, in the year 1950.
It is a day to highlight the contributions of the services provided by meterological services around the world so as to protect the well-being of society.
THE GOA SCENARIO
Goa's first meteorological office was established as early as the 1940s, during the Portuguese regime, and was known as Servico Meteorologico do Estado da India.
Following the liberation of Goa, it was re-christened ‘Goa Observatory’ in 1963 and was declared ‘Meteorological Centre’ in 2007.
SIGNIFICANCE OF WORLD METEOROLOGICAL DAY
“It's an opportunity for us to interact with the public to know their requirements. For instance, how to access information regarding weather alerts, which in today's world is vital considering changes taking place in the weather,” says scientist Rahul M, from Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Goa.
Besides familiarising the public on the work done by the IMD, this day is an opportunity to also educate the public on activities we should do in a scenario of climate change and what an individual can do to contribute towards activities that the public or administration is doing to fight challenges of global warning, explains Rahul.
The importance of using wisely our resources, so future generations can access our natural resources is highlighted.
HOW THE IMD WORKS
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is the authorised agency to provide weather-related services in India. It comes under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Central Government.
Every state has a meteorological centre. In Goa, it is located at Altinho, Panjim. The services it provides includes general weather forecasting, agriculture weather forecasting, airport weather forecasting which decides take-off and landing times, warnings and other bulletins.
It’s a 24x7 job with varied parameters of observations being held at regular intervals of time. They are professionals, ranging from scientific assistants to cadres of scientists, who maintain instruments measuring atmospheric parameters, record and convey the information to the concerned departments and forecast weather patterns.
At a central scale, data from all IMD centres goes to servers in Pune and New Delhi, where complex numerical weather prediction models are run on software with the help of super computers where forecasts are generated.
TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE
As they say, climate change is for real. This year, the theme of World Meteorological Day is 'The future of Weather, Climate and Water across generations'.
At the IMD, scientists are equipping themselves with the latest technology to study weather patterns.
Scientists explain how weather patterns have become more intense over the years with weather occurrences or events that were taking place in every ten or twenty years or so taking place quite frequently, which makes forecasting a challenging task in these times.
“In the last several years, we have improved in weather observation and forecasting,” says Rahul. “We have installed a weather radar on our office in Goa, capable of observing atmosphere upto 500 km from Panjim.
This becomes a vital tool for accurately forecasting during rains and thunderstorms. We also use satellite data, data from foreign agencies etc to forecast the weather.”
In Goa, there are two observatories (Panjim and Mormugao) and 8 outpost rain guage stations (Mapusa, Pernem, Valpoi, Ponda, Margao, Canacona, Qupem and Sanguem), all of which work in tandem to forecast the daily weather.