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Indian lab attempts to tame the tropics
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Indian lab attempts to tame the tropics
Saturday July 1 2006 00:00 IST
GADANKI: The National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL) located at Gadanki village in Andhra’s Chitoor district is attempting to orchestrate a breakthrough in tropical weather research, an area that continues to baffle meteorologists.

An autonomous institution under the Department of Space, NARL has taken the lead role in establishing the International Network of Tropical Atmosphere Radars (INTAR). “INTAR will carry out research to further enhance understanding of complex atmospheric phenomena of the tropics,” NARL Director D Narayana Rao told this website's newspaper, on a site-visit.

He adds, “So far, no model has worked reliably when it comes to predicting tropical weather. Tropics generate convective currents, which dissipate within hours, making it difficult to study patterns.”

INTAR will connect observatories with Stratosphere-Troposphere (ST) and Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere (MST) Radars in equatorial regions across the globe to measure winds, waves, turbulence and stability in the troposphere and lower stratosphere. Tropical cyclones, decadal variability associated with El Nino and other such phenomena will be observed and the data recorded by a nodal agency.

Incidentally, Gadanki is home to the world’s second largest MST radar (the biggest is in Peru) which records atmospheric data up to a height of 100 km. NARL also plans to set up 10-12 ST radars across the country and network them. The Indian ST radar network, according to Rao, will aid improved weather forecasting and also provide information on economically effective altitudes for commercial aircraft to fly.

“Through the ST radar network, we will be able to provide wind-related information to Air Traffic Controllers in real time. We can also suggest to civilian flying agencies altitudes, which enable optimum use of fuel. We expect a 5-10 per cent cost savings for airlines from use of this data,” he said.

Under the purview of the 11th Plan, the ST Radar network has a proposed budget of Rs 100 crore.

NARL also houses instruments like the Lower Atmospheric Wind Profiler, the Lidar (to observe Cirrus clouds which are believed to affect rain patterns), and the Disdrometer (measures rain drop size).

The Laboratory also conducts experiments to provide support to satellite launch vehicle programs at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR at Sriharikota.


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