Changing weather

Will ISRO's automatic weather station revolutionise forecasts?

Published: Saturday 30 April 2005

barely a year after the country witnessed how wrong meteorological data can hamper reliable weather forecasting, the Indian Space Research Organisation (isro) has claimed a major feat in the field. On March 18, 2005, it announced that it had designed and developed the prototype of an automatic weather station (aws) that can not only record vital rainfall, temperature and wind data, but also transmit the same to a central location in a fraction of a second.

The wide gap in the actual amount of rainfall from the Southwest Monsoon and what was predicted by the India Meteorological Department (imd) in 2004 was linked to falty data that came from nearly 550 meteorological observatories, most of them outdated and manually operated. This had led to Union science and technology minister Kapil Sibal announcing a onetime grant of Rs 500 crore to improve weather data collection (See Down To Earth, 'Windfall', September 15, 2004). In this regard, the first-ever indigenously developed aws couldn't have come at a better time.

The aws has been developed by scientists mainly from three isro centres. It can measure and record temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, rainfall, relative humidity and solar radiation, among other things. It can also measure soil moisture and soil temperature, making it suitable for agrometeorological applications. Its features include easy programming of sensors, front panel display and archival of one-year data and communication options via insat, telephone, modem and cellular telephone. It can be used to transmit weather data to isro's satellites Insat-3 a and Kalpana-1, which can relay this to central recording stations located at imd's Pune and New Delhi centres. It can also be integrated with the global positioning system

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