American and Indian scientists will jointly predict next year’s monsoon -- the rainfall system that powers the Indian economy -- under an ambitious weather forecast agreement signed on Monday.
The pact -- first reported by HT on November 2 and inked during delegation-level talks chaperoned by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday -- bolsters agricultural partnership between the two countries, which already spans key areas, such as food security and climate impact.
Shailesh Nayak, secretary in India’s ministry of earth sciences, and Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were signatories to agreement, being loosely called the “Monsoon Mission” and includes setting up of an India-US “monsoon desk”.
A truant southwest monsoon remains a big worry for the Indian government, as 60 per cent of the country's farmed areas remain outside its irrigation network and two-thirds of Indians depend on farm income.
“This is not about a ready-made transfer of any perfect weather forecasting model but about collaborating with the US to develop one that will work for us. We are excited about this,” Indian Met department chief Ajit Tyagi told HT.
A monsoon changing course suddenly or stalling mid-way has been hurting farmers and forcing additional government spending to offset losses.
Tyagi said next year, his department would experiment with the US model, whose chief objective is to enable prediction of the monsoon’s characteristics two weeks in advance, from current five-to-10 days.
While the US has committed $100,000 (about Rs. 43 lakh) annually towards the project, India’s share will be $480,000 (about Rs. 2.4 crore) a year over the next five years.
India homed in on the US model, called “Couple Forecasting System”, for two reasons. One, it combines oceanography and atmospherical sciences, unlike the Indian model that relies mainly on the former. Two, scientists feel the US model can be better experimented for India's requirements.
Tyagi said the monsoon was of interest to the Americans too because all weather systems lasting beyond a month, such as the Indian monsoon, had implications for them. Monsoon anomalies, such as El Nino events, have global consequences, he said.
What’s the deal?
The agreement, loosely called the Monsoon Mission, was signed by Shailesh Nayak, secretary in India's ministry of earth sciences, and Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The pact will boost agricultural ties between the two countries, which includes key areas such as food security and climate impact
It also includes setting up of an India-US "monsoon desk".