IMD expanding radar network for improved forecasts

India’s capability to detect and track monsoons will get a major fillip, if things go according to plan.

Published: 30th October 2017 07:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th October 2017 07:11 AM   |  A+A-

A family braves the showers at Ambattur Estate on Sunday | P JAWAHAR

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: India’s capability to detect and track monsoons will get a major fillip, if things go according to plan. India Meteorological Department (IMD) will shortly place a proposal to procure 10 new C-band Doppler Weather Radars (DWR), which will deliver better forecasting for interior states as well. 
KJ Ramesh, Director-General of Meteorology, IMD, told Express that specifications for new radars are under discussion and very soon the proposal will be placed. 

“Currently, we have 24 Doppler Weather Radars of S-band and X-band. Under the Integrated Himalayan Meteorology Programme, 10 X-band radars of 80 km range will be installed in the major towns of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. This apart, Indian Air Force is augmenting 11 C-band DWRs, which will boost our coverage,” Ramesh said. He added that most of the East Coast is covered from Karaikal upto Kolkata. ISRO is also upgrading its S-band radar in Sriharikota, which will be a standby for Chennai. The Air Force base at Kharagpur has put-up a radar and DRDO has commissioned a S-band DWR at Chandipur near Balasore in Odisha. 

“In Thiruvananthapuram, we have an ISRO radar. Coming to the West Coast, the radar in Kochi is under testing. Between Kochi and Goa, we want to install a DWR in Mangaluru and one will come-up at Ratnagiri or Sindhudurg to fill the gap between Goa and Mumbai. After commissioning the proposed radar network, we will be covering all the plains and Himalayan region. Later, Northeast will be taken up.”

To a query, the IMD chief acknowledged there were some concerns from Defence Ministry over installation of radars assembled in China, but IMD had addressed them. “Though they are Chinese made, the technology is of US-based Lockheed Martin.” He also explained that prior to 2008 Olympics in China, Beijing Metstar Radar Co  Ltd, a venture of China National Huayun Technology Development Corp, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Meteorological Administration, and US-based Lockheed Martin Corp was floated to cater to China’s needs. Later, the firm started exporting DWRs. 

Ramesh said three of those radars were installed at Karaikal, Paradeep in Odisha and Goa, with DRDO giving the go-ahead. Karaikal radar had already been added to IMD network and performing well.
Meanwhile, met officials said Karaikal radar gains immense importance because of its close proximity to Nagapattinam, a highly cyclone-prone district in Tamil Nadu. One more DWR in Ramanathapuram is all is required to cover the entire Tamil Nadu coast. 

How useful are the DWRs?
Various meteorological, hydrological and aviation products derived from Doppler Weather Radar data using a variety of software algorithms are very useful for forecasters in estimating the storm’s centre, its intensity, fixing its position and predicting its future path and safe navigation of aircraft and ships.

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