Chandigarh-based research organisation developing technology for real-time avalanche monitoring
SASE (Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment) is in the process of developing technology that will be able to provide real-time prediction before an avalanche is triggered.Updated: Feb 01, 2018 18:39 IST
For the Indian Army soldiers stationed on border posts on the snow clapped Himalayan region, an avalanche is no less threatening than the enemy fire. Avalanches can’t be stopped and nothing is left standing in their path. The only way to save precious lives is to predict its start.
The Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) is in the process of developing technology that will be able to provide real-time prediction before an avalanche is triggered.
SASE is developing the Wireless Sensor Technology (WST) for gathering information from remote locations that will ensure uninterrupted data streaming to base station on near realtime basis.
Even today, SASE issues the avalanche warning, but with the WST providing real time updates, the SASE will be able to provide last minute alerts to soldiers manning such posts so that they can evacuate before an avalanche is triggered.
“The army posts are dictated by strategic and tactical requirements and the threat of an avalanche comes secondary. Sometimes these posts are located in high avalanche-prone areas. We have mapped the avalanche prone areas and keep updating the army about these locations, but in the absence of the real time predictions the danger of getting swept away in an avalanche persists for the soldiers posted in these locations,” said a SASE spokesperson, associated with the project.
Evaluation of snowpack stability over a particular slope for prediction of avalanche is a challenging and complicated task. “This project is a systematic effort in this direction and will contribute towards providing a state-of-the-art autonomous platform for acquiring in-situ snow-met parameters, avalanche occurrence information and improving upon the accuracy in predicting stability of snowpack in an avalanche prone mountain slope,” said the spokesperson.
Wireless Sensor Networks are low-power, multi-hopping systems that combine multiple wireless nodes into an extendable network environment with non-line-of-sight coverage and a self-healing data path that provide ubiquitous sensing of any environment in the monitoring of parameters that may lead to natural disasters.
An efficient wireless sensor network will have characteristics like multi-hop communication, self-configuring, self-healing, dynamic routing, ease of use, scalability and bi-directional communication, which make them state-of-the-art as compared to any other network.
When combined with battery power management, these characteristics allow sensor networks to be long-lived, easily deployable, and resilient to the unpredictable wireless channel. With WSN, the vision of pervasive and fine-grained sensing becomes reality particularly in remote or hazardous environments where many fundamental processes have never been studied in detail due to inaccessibility, informed the spokesperson.
A science and technology (S&T) project is going on at an avalanche site near Dhundhi Field Research Station of SASE in Himachal Pradesh where such a network with various snow and meteorological sensors has been setup. The data and performance of the network is being continuously monitored and analysed. After the completion of the current S&T project the technology will be demonstrated to army and civilian authorities. New sites will be selected, which would require slope specific prediction and optimum number of wireless nodes and sensors will be installed for acquisition of snow-met and avalanche occurrence data, added the spokesperson.