Major achievements of Ministry of Earth Sciences during 2016

Ministry of Earth Sciences.
Ministry of Earth Sciences.

During 2016, many significant achievements have been made on providing weather and climate services. Many observational campaigns have been taken up as special atmospheric observations help us to understand model deficiencies and to improve the models. To address the issue of better measurement and understanding of small-scale processes that drive the variability, seasonality and predictability in the South Asian Monsoon, a large-scale joint India-UK observational campaign was carried out during the period June-July 2016. The campaign involved the deployment of UK’s BAe-146-301 atmospheric research aircraft with sophisticated scientific instruments and India’s Sagar Nidhi and Sindhu Sadhna research ships. An observational campaign to understand different physical features of Fog and factors responsible for its genesis, intensity and duration was initiated during December 2016 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) and at ICAR-IARI in New Delhi. These observations will be useful for improving model forecasts.

(a)    Dr Harsh Vardhan, Dr Alexander Evans and UK & Indian scientists with the Research Aircraft to study monsoon variability. (b) Tether Sonde Balloon Observations up to 1000 m were taken during 3 to 23 January, 2016.

 A high resolution global deterministic weather prediction model has been commissioned for generating operational weather forecasts at a horizontal resolution of 12km. With this, MoES has attained the same capability as in USA in using high resolution weather prediction models. Many major improvements have been made in data assimilation for the ingestion of data from the Indian and International satellites in numerical models.

 Under the Monsoon Mission, operational dynamical model systems have been implemented for extended range and seasonal forecasts. For the first time, forecasts on different time scales during the hot weather season (April to May) including heat waves were issued by the India Meteorological Department.

 The Climate Centre at IMD Pune has been now recognized as the Regional Climate Centre by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) for providing regional climate services. A State-of-the-art Earth System Model(ESM) has been implemented to study the climate change aspects and develop future regional climate change scenarios at 25 km resolution and conduct climate impact assessment studies. The ESM will be the first climate model from India to contribute to the forthcoming sixth IPCC climate change assessment process.

 The quality of weather services saw noticeable improvements achieved in skills of Heavy Rainfall Forecasts and tropical cyclone forecasts. Presently around 19.5 C million farmers are being directly benefitted by the agro-meteorological services of IMD. For the recent cyclone Vardah, accurate predictions were provided almost 3 days in advance, helping to save thousands of lives.

 The Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) monitored 29 earthquakes of magnitude ≥ 6.5 MW during the period 1 January – 31 October 2016. Out of these 29 earthquakes, 2 significant earthquakes have occurred in the Indian Ocean region. These earthquakes could not generate any Tsunami and hence no threat bulletins were issued for India.

 INCOIS continued to provide forecasts on the state of the oceans, the PFZ advisories and species specific advisories for a wide spectrum of users. The ocean state forecasts were also provided before and during the launch day of Re-usable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and also to the research vessel Sagar Manjusha from Chennai to the landing point of RLV in the Bay of Bengal.

 On 27th July 2016, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences dedicated the Search and Rescue Aid Tool (SARAT) to the Nation during the XV National Maritime Search and Rescue (NMSAR) Board.  In addition, an experimental version of SARAT was used to provide Search And Rescue support to all the concerned in connection with the missing AN 32 aircraft, which was reportedly missing off Chennai on 22 July 2016.

SARAT- The Search And Rescue Aid Tool dedicated to the Nation during the XV National Maritime Search and Rescue (NMSAR) Board meeting held in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 27 July 2016.

To facilitate the indication of eco-sensitive zones, potential fishing zones, fishing avoidance zone during the event of oil spill,  the third version of online oil spill advisory was inaugurated at the 21st National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOSDCP) meeting held at India International Centre, Delhi on 5 August 2016.

 In 2016, INCOIS deployed 23 ARGO floats in the Indian Ocean having sensors to collect the physical parameters, of which 11 were equipped with both physical and biogeochemical sensors.  Currently, over 732 active floats are actively working in the Indian Ocean of which 136 were deployed by India. So far, more than 340856 temperature and salinity profiles, 18993 dissolved oxygen and 7614 Chlorophyll profiles were collected by Argo floats in the Indian regions.

Total number of floats deployed by India since 1 January 2016.  Blue dots indicate Bio Argo floats and red dots indicate standard T/S floats.  (b) Total Active floats in the Indian Ocean.  Red dots indicate all active floats deployed by other countries while blue dots indicate all active floats deployed by India.  (c)  Yearly progress of Argo floats profiles in the Indian Ocean. Blue indicates CTD profiles, red indicates Dissolved oxygen profiles and green indicates chlorophyll profiles. X-axis represents number of profiles.

Ocean Moored buoy Network in the Indian Ocean (OMNI) has been systematically maintaining the twelve deep sea buoy systems with surface & subsurface sensors, four coastal buoys and two tsunami buoys. During the reporting period 14 cruises were conducted to carry out 41 deployments/retrievals.  Over 172 ship days were utilized to cover a distance of 11,800nm, for completing the task including deployment of SAIC Tsunami buoy systems in May-June 2016 and the Indo-UK cruise under the BOBBLE programme in July 2016.

The national seismological network consisting of 82 observatories has been functioning smoothly and a total of 245 earthquake events occurred in and around India (Latitude 0-40° N, Longitude 60-100° E) were detected and auto-located during the period November 2015 October, 2016.  These include 40 events of magnitude 5 and above. Information pertaining to significant events were transmitted to all concerned state and central government agencies, dealing with relief and rescue operations in the region and also posted on the website. Currently the second phase of upgardation is on which envisages installation of 32 new stations and upgradation of 6 existing stations. It is expected that by the end of the year 2017, a total of 116 stations will be part of the national network. These observatories are being integrated with Operational Centre through VSAT communication facility established under the Integrated Seismic and GPS Network (ISGN).

 Seismic micro-zonation is the process of estimating the response of soil layers under earthquake excitations and thus the variation of earthquake characteristics on the ground surface.  In order to undertake micro-zonation, studies of 30 selected cities, falling in seismic zone V, IV, III and State Capitals has been initiated. As a part of this exercise, Micro-zonation of Delhi has been completed based on Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis (PSHA).

 Scientific Deep Drilling in Koyna which started in 2016 is aimed at setting up of borehole observatory (s) at depth for directly measuring the in-situ physical properties of the rocks, pore-fluid pressure, hydrological parameters, temperature and other parameters of an intra-plate, active fault zone in the near field of earthquakes – before, during and after their occurrence, leading to a better understanding of the mechanics of faulting, physics of reservoir triggered earthquakes and preparing a predictive model.

 Borehole Geophysics Research Laboratory (BGRL), Karad has undertaken scientific deep drilling and associated investigations in the Koyna seismic zone, Maharashtra.. A Drilling Information System (DIS) has been configured and tested, specifically, for the Koyna drilling project in collaboration with ICDP. The key capabilities of DIS are: (i) Storage of the drilling, geological and geophysical data acquired during an experiment using documented procedures, formats and standards, (ii) Generation of metadata, quality control and data security and, (iii) Archival of the data for the future research activities.

 Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Union Minister, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences at Bhoomi Pujan ceremony of BGRL on Feb 1, 2016 at Hazarmachi, Karad, Maharashtra.

 The 35th Indian Scientific expedition to Antarctica was executed with a total of 124 expedition members representing 29 different organizations with 34 projects covering upper atmosphere, astrophysics, geophysics, meteorology, glaciology, geology, biology, environmental sciences, human physiology and medicine. Yoga was introduced as part of a scientific programme.The 36th expedition members were sent in different batches, commencing November 2016. Total 31 sub-projects/studies would cover (i) Atmospheric Science & Meteorology, (ii) Biology & Environmental Sciences (iii) Earth Science & Glaciology with the overall theme being the “Climate Change”.

 National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences established a high altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSH (literally meaning, a slice of ice), situated above 13,500 ft (> 4000 m) at a remote region in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. This station is equipped with instruments such as Automatic Weather Station, Water Level Recorder, Steam Drill, Snow/Ice Corer, Ground Penetrating Radar, Differential Global positioning System, Snow Fork, Flow Tracker, Thermister string, Radiometer etc. Water Level Recorders were installed at five locations along with a stretch of 130 km of Chandra River in Western Himalaya for hydrological balance/modeling. Glaciers were monitored for mass balance, dynamics, energy balance and hydrology.

Field Research Station “Himansh” at Sutri Dhaka, Chandra basin, H.P

Under the Arctic observations program, the Indian Arctic mooring (IndARC-II) was retrieved on 26th July 2016, following which IndARC III was re-deployed successfully on 27th July 2016.  The Ambient Noise Measurement System with a single hydrophone and a data acquisition system was deployed on IndARC-II. The IndARC-II collected more than 116 parameters and worked continuously for 373 days in the Arctic waters. During the year, 17 projects covering different aspects oceanography, atmospheric sciences, geology and glaciology were implemented at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Norway.

IXth Southern Ocean Expedition was launched on-board Oceanographic Research Vessel MV Agulhas [South African vessel] from Port Louis, Mauritius during December, 2016. The observations will be made upto Prydz Bay, the coastal waters of India’s third station in Antarctica “Bharati’.IndARC-II in the Arctic

 Ministry of Earth Sciences signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), for exploration of Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS) in Indian Ocean. The contract was signed by Dr. M Rajeevan, Secretary, MoES and Mr. Nii Allotey Odunton, Secretary General, ISA. The ISA is an institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea to which India is a Party.

 Ministry of Earth Sciences submitted an application to International Seabed Authority for extension of contract for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (PMN) for a further period of 5 years (2017-22). The contract signed with International Seabed of Authority for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules on 25th March 2002 is expiring on 24th March 2017. The PMN programme is oriented towards exploration and development of technologies for eventual extraction of nodules lying on the seabed at 4000 to 6000 m water depth from the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) allocated to India by UN. India is presently having an area of 75,000 square km, located about 2000 km away from her southern tip.

 Indigenously developed 500 m depth rated shallow water/polar remotely operated vehicle (PROVe) was successfully deployed, in the Andaman coral Islands and the vehicle was successfully maneuvered in the undulating reef terrain to record high quality underwater visuals of coral reef biodiversity with spectral irradiance.

Remotely Operated Vehicle

 India signed a MoU with Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Japan. The advancement of academic research in the field of Earth Sciences for   the benefit of the peace and human welfare is the prime objective of the MOU.

 India became a member of the International Energy Agency- Ocean Energy Systems (IEA-OES) through signing of the Implementing Agreement. By becoming a member of the IEA-OES, India will have access to advanced R&D teams and technologies across the world.

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