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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

IMD’s automatic weather stations in Haryana not relaying weather data as batteries, sensors not replaced

gurugram Updated: Dec 03, 2019 22:45 IST
Sonali Verma
Sonali Verma

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) automatic weather stations (AWS) in Haryana, meant to transmit hourly weather data, have not been functional for at least last four months.

According to IMD officials, the AWS haven’t been relaying weather data as their sensors and batteries are now defunct and haven’t been replaced. Officials were unable to say when they were last replaced. There was also little clarity on how the daily temperature figures were being compiled.

Haryana has a network of 20 AWS that were installed in 2012 in Gurugram, Faridabad, Mewat, Rohtak, among other districts, as per the IMD. They are supposed to relay accurate, hourly temperature, humidity, and rainfall updates.

An AWS consists of a thermometer for measuring temperature, an anemometer for wind speed, a wind vane for wind direction, a hygrometer for humidity, a rain gauge for measuring rainfall and a data logger to collect this information and store it. This data is relayed to AWS stations through satellites. A battery stores the energy generated from the sensors and the solar panels on the AWS to send the data.

The IMD has 576 such AWS installed across the country—a plan that was initiated in 2007 to augment the surface meteorological network of the department, data on the website states.

“There are some data transmission issues with Haryana’s AWS. The batteries and sensors haven’t been working for the last four-five months. We’re replacing the old batteries and sensors with new ones,” Surender Paul, director, IMD Chandigarh, said. He added that tenders have been floated and within a month or so, all sensors and batteries should be replaced. “A few AWS were fixed earlier but again developed some issues,” Paul said.

He added that data on temperatures and humidity for a few AWS in the state, including Gurugram, is currently being retrieved locally from these stations.

An AWS needs periodic battery replacement and calibration as the sensors are sensitive to atmospheric changes, experts said. HT had, in August last year, reported that the AWS in Gurugram, located at the National Institute of Solar Energy on the Gurugram-Faridabad Road, had been out of order for weeks, and IMD’s meteorologists said it was due to a lack of maintenance of the instrument.

City-specific weather forecasts are important for predicting rainfall and even pollution levels. Farmers across the state depend on weather forecasts and plan their farming activities.

Officials at the IMD’s instrument division said the AWS across the state are in the process of being upgraded. “The transmission method of AWS in several states is being changed to a GPRS-based system from a satellite-based system,” D Pradhan, head of the instruments division, said. He said the GPRS-based system would be more efficient in transmitting data. “The process of changing the method should be done in the next two months and all data would then be relayed efficiently,” he added.

Meteorologists have pointed that there are no manual observatories in Haryana and that Gurugram and Faridabad should have at least one. Navdeep Dahiya, a Rohtak-based weatherman, said data from automatic weather stations is more prone to errors considering the flaw in instruments from time to time. “A manual observatory could also more accurate and provide historical weather data,” he said.

However, Pradhan said a distance of about 70-80km has to be maintained between manual observatories. “Considering Delhi has five manual observatories, Gurugram and Faridabad might not need one,” he said.