Indian scientists to build computer models to make predictions of summer monsoons

Scientists in India aided by supercomputers are attempting to build computer models that would allow them to predict the erratic movements of summer monsoons, according to AlertNet.

An article titled ‘Indian scientists try to crack monsoon source code‘ on reports, if successful, the impact of the project would be “life-changing in a country where 600 million people depend on farming for their livelihoods and where agriculture contributes 15 percent to the economy.”

The scientists in India, along with their counterparts in the United States and Britain, are trying to use super-fast computers to build the world’s first short-range and long-range computer models that can give much more granular information about the monsoon’s movements.

According to the article, “This would help India conserve depleting water resources and agricultural output would get a boost as farmers would be able to plan their crops better. Armed with more precise forecasts, state governments would be better prepared, in theory, for disasters such as the recent floods in Assam. It would also bring more certainty to economic policy-making. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government is gambling on a normal monsoon this year to boost weak economic growth.”

The importance of the five-year “monsoon mission”, according to AlertNet, has been underscored by this summer’s patchy and below-average rains, which have provoked much anxious sky-watching and fears of drought in India’s northwest, even as floods in the northeast displaced 2 million people and killed more than 100.

India typically receives 75 percent of its annual rain from the June-September monsoon as moisture-laden winds sweep in from the southwest of the peninsula, according to the article.

“Ultimately it’s all about water. Everybody needs water and whatever amount of water you get here is mainly through rainfall,” Shailesh Nayak, secretary of the Earth Sciences Ministry told AlertNet.

ESSIC and AOSC Professor Dr. Raghu Murtugudde said he has been involved in the project through teaching, advising students and helping with diagnosing the predictions. He said he will be teaching again August 5 to 24.

“The most important thing I am pushing for is the Regional Climate Centers concept, which has been approved and will downscale global predictions for applications like we did in the CBFS,” Murtugudde said.

A blog entry on his ESSIC blog mentions the “monsoon mission.”