Saturday, June 19, 2021
Home News Reports Indian Meteorological Department - What to make of them?

Indian Meteorological Department – What to make of them?

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), which forecasts weather patterns in India, has for long been a liability to the government, as well as to the citizens. For many of us, who still remember the old monopoly days of Doordarshan, where the last five minutes of the daily news was devoted to weather – it was a practical joke that whatever the forecast was – we could be sure of opposite to happen. However, the recent performance of the IMD has been chequered to say the least.

First, let me give the credit where it is due. IMD correctly forecast the cyclone “hudhud” in October 2014, which helped the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha administrations to take adequate precautions. Likewise, IMD also correctly forecast cyclonic storm “nilofer” in the western coast of India, also in October 2014. Also, periodic warnings given to the fishermen community have saved countless lives over the years. Also, IMD has been successfully forecasting the weather patterns for the annual Amarnath Yatras.

However, the credibility of IMD takes a serious hit, when it comes to the forecast of monsoons. We don’t need to emphasize enough that monsoons are critical to India for agriculture and farming. Hence, it becomes even more critical that IMD is held accountable. Let us consider this year – states of Odisha and West Bengal are now suffering flood like situation; where as parts of Karnataka and Maharasthra face drought like situation. Has the IMD been able to predict any of this? If not, what is the whole purpose of having the department. Marathwada region has seen innumerable number of farmer suicides over the years. Has the IMD made any recommendation to the government about declaring this area not suitable for agriculture – so that farmers can look for other avenues for their livelihood? There is no point in farmers waiting for rains, when there is little or no chance of any – if recent history is any indicator. IMD needs a serious dose of professionalism to be held accountable for their work.

In addition, IMD’s performance in the last few years has not been a smooth sail either. As a snapshot, let us take a look at IMD’s monsoon predictions in 2014:

Region

For the Period

Forecast %

Actual Monsoon

Forecast made on

24th Apr 2014

9th June 2014

12th Aug 2014

All India June – September

95 ± 5

93± 4

87 ± 4

88

Northwest India June – September

85 ± 8

76 ± 8

79

Central India June – September

94 ± 8

89 ± 8

90

Northeast India June – September

99 ± 8

93 ± 8

88

Southern Peninsula June – September

93 ± 8

87 ± 8

93

 

We can draw these inferences from the above table:

  • The first forecast made in April 2014 was not met. Hence, farmers were failed by the IMD, in terms of any preparations they could make for the monsoon season
  • This forecast (made in April 2014) was only made at the national level – hence, it is of little use for farmers
  • The second forecast made in June 2014 has also not been very accurate, when you compare with the actual monsoon
  • The third forecast made in Aug 2014 has been fairly accurate only in Northwest and Central India. Whereas, it again missed accuracy in Northeast and South India.I accept that they are within the MoE, but even in the third month of monsoon if the IMD cannot make fairly accurate forecast, it is a sign of mediocrity.
  • Which brings me to the critical point – margin of error (MoE). A MoE of 8% is scandalous for any forecast. It is time for IMD to improve its technology or its statistical models to reduce the MoE. (the IMD uses a term “model error” instead of MoE)

This is an area where the government needs to invest more with the latest technologies and equipments. If not, at least the private players must be encouraged to get into this field to bring innovation. It is encouraging to see the emergence of skymetweather.com as another serious player. However, having a small sample of few years must not convince us that they are better than IMD.

IMD’s performance on weather monitoring and forecasts aside, its ability to detect early warnings of earthquakes is a big let-down. We can all agree that globally there has been little success in accurately predicting the earthquakes. However, based on reports, IMD is incapable of accurately measuring the “scale and characteristics of an earthquake” after the event. This is the reason why we heard vague statements by IMD officials after the recent Nepal earthquake about “multiple aftershocks possible” – without giving the scale or magnitude of these aftershocks.

This brings us to the point of organizational mess in IMD. IMD, as an organization, is part of the Ministry of Earth Sciences. At the same time, a department in IMD, the “Environmental Meteorology Unit” is part of Ministry of Environment and Forests. IMD also gives crucial support in giving meteorological information to the civil aviation sector. To facilitate this task, they need to work with Ministry of Civil Aviation. There is another department providing service of “positional astronomy”. If you are wondering what this is, do not worry, you have company. Among other tasks, this department publishes “Rashtriya Panchang” in 14 languages in India. Now, why any government needs to be involved in the business of publishing panchangs is beyond me. We can appreciate working in a matrix structure, reporting to various ministries – but in government institutions, this usually means more bureaucracy and more problems.

PS: The skeptic me also doesn’t rule out political interference in 2014. With impending elections, IMD may have forced to predict normal monsoon. But this will remain a wild guess, till we have solid evidence to back it up.

Source: Most of the information in this report is available on- www.imd.gov.in

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Ullas
Global Citizen, Kannada roots, Indian values, Man United spirit, Fiscal conservative

Related Articles

Trending now

Mukesh was burnt alive at Tikri Border because he was a Brahmin? Village head thinks so, the family wants speedy justice

Residents of Kasar village near Tikri border, where Mukesh was burnt alive, demand immediate removal of tents of farmer protestors

“Law of land is supreme, not your policies”: Parliamentary committee to Twitter after its officials said they follow the company’s policies

When the committee asked what Twitter follows, Indian law or own policies, company officials replied that they follow their policies

TISS research paper calls Kashmir ‘India occupied’, blames Indian Army for domestic violence in Kashmiri society

A dissertation paper by a student at TISS-Hyderabad has come under the scanner for calling Kashmir "India occupied Kashmir".

Ghaziabad fake ‘hate crime’: Police send notice to Twitter India MD for ‘provoking communal unrest’, ask him to appear within a week

UP Police had registered an FIR against Twitter India MD and 7 others in the Loni fake hate crime case for spreading lies.

Information about a fictitious train on ‘reliable’ Wikipedia, picked up by websites and academic journals: Here is how it originated

A 2016 edit about fictional Mashriq-Maghreb Express was removed from the East Pakistan Railway's Wikipedia page in 2020 only

‘Being targeted because I am Muslim’: SP leader Umed Idris plays victim card after giving Ghaziabad incident a communal spin

SP leader Umed Idris was booked by Ghaziabad police on May 17 for giving the Loni incident a communal spin in his Facebook video.

Recently Popular

Pakistani audience go ballistic over Zee5 web series featuring Muslim girl-Indian Hindu boy love story, call it ‘haram’

The Pakistani web series features the love story between a Pakistani Muslim girl and Indian Hindu boy who have both lost their fathers to the conflict between the two nations.

Republic TV issues statement over Arnab Goswami’s disappearance from the news network: Here is what they said

Arnab Goswami was last seen on May 2 during a discussion on West Bengal assembly polls. He will make a return on Monday.

Dhruv Rathee fans mark YouTuber Karolina Goswami for targeted harassment after she exposed his lies

After Karolina Goswami pointed out the factual errors and mistakes in the Dhruv Rathee video, Rathee's supporters have been harassing and abusing Goswami.

AAP celebrates Delhi’s new architectural marvel, the Moti Nagar speed breaker

AAP's Moti Nagar MLA has recently inaugurated a speed breaker, along with dozens of supporters flouting social distancing norms.

Ghaziabad fake hate crime case: Unmuted video of elderly man seconds before he was beaten up released. Watch

In the video, Abdul can be heard admitting that one Intezar sent some people to him to make the 'tabeez' (occult amulet) and put them in his spell as he had some work from them.

Virtual hearing embarrassment: Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi caught attending the court proceedings without pants

Abhishek Manu Singhvi was caught attending court proceedings in boxer shorts when one of the screens accidentally fell off and showed the naked legs of the senior advocate
- Advertisement -

 

Connect with us

255,564FansLike
554,467FollowersFollow
24,400SubscribersSubscribe