India aims for umbrella approach to monsoon rains

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India has roped in almost all the world’s major weather forecasters in its effort to accurately forecast monsoon rains in the next four years.

“About half-a-dozen Indian, and almost an equal number of foreign, weather offices have joined hands to help us bring more precision in forecasting,” LS Rathore, director-general of the state-run India Meteorological Department, said yesterday.

The IMD, which initially tied up with the UK and America, has also teamed up with the weather offices of Japan, Australia, and South Korea. The department aims to deploy more radars and observatories on the ground and overhaul its mathematical model, Mr Rathore said. The Indian weather office now forecasts monsoon rains based on long-term data for the past 130 years. It also considers ocean temperatures and atmospheric pressure. There are two annual forecasts, one in April and the other in June, after the monsoon rains cover half the country.

The new model will help the IMD issue four to five monsoon forecasts and provide regional reports.

More than half of India’s 1.2 billion people work in agriculture, and its 235 million farmers depend on the June to September rains to grow their crops