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Waiting for a rain forecaster

india Updated: Jan 07, 2007 01:55 IST
GC Shekhar
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The most predictable thing about the Indian monsoon is its unpredictability, said two of the country’s top weather scientists here on Thursday.

"The monsoon continues to be a highly variable phenomenon. In spite of regular updating of operational models, it is still difficult to predict the monsoon," admitted Dr M Rajeevan of the National Climate Centre of IMD Pune.

The Indian Meteorological Department followed the statistical model by relying upon past rain patterns to get a fix on the monsoon. “Though 8 to 10 predictors are used, the best set of the most dependable predictors is yet to evolve. IMD’s long range forecast skill has not improved over the eight decades in spite of better understanding of monsoon variability and regular updating of the operational models," he told the Indian Science Congress during a session on Monsoon Forecast and Climate Change.

"The Dynamical method, based on mathematical models governing the dynamics and physics of the atmosphere and oceans, continues to be a largely untested way of predicting monsoons and requires a lot more study before Indian adopted it,” Rajeevan pointed out.

To a question Rajeevan claimed that even developed nations with better facilities were unable to accurately pinpoint the behaviour of the monsoon.

"The lack of computing resources and specialists to handle the algorithms that analyse the data are hampering our progress," he pointed out. Even though India’s own supercomputer Param and the American Cray machine have helped, more powerful machines capable of very high-speed number crunching are the need of the day, he explained.

The country also needed in depth studies on cumulous clouds and atmospheric patterns, before monsoon becomes a predictable thing, he said.

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