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IMD may soon Get Extra Sets of Weather Observations to Improve Forecast Accuracy via AMDAR

The frequency of extreme weather events has increased along with the rise in global temperatures. In the past, on average, a heatwave, a drought, or an extreme rainstorm would occur every ten years. In order to accurately predict events, it is crucial to have modern and sophisticated weather forecasting systems.

Shivam Dwivedi
An accurate early warnings system give people time to flee from a flash flood, tornado or tsunami
An accurate early warnings system give people time to flee from a flash flood, tornado or tsunami

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) may soon receive additional sets of weather observations via AMDAR, which can help improve forecast accuracy, especially as early warning systems become more important in light of the increasing frequency of extreme weather events.

For every flight landing or taking off from an airport, the AMDAR, or Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay, is available, with the aircraft sensor recording the air temperature, wind speed, direction, barometric pressure, and water vapour and transmitting the data to ground stations.

These reports, which are available in meteorological departments around the world, contribute up to 10% to the impact of the numerical prediction model and play an important role in reducing errors in 24-hour forecasts. 

Other data sources for the prediction models include atmospheric data collected by weather balloons, sea surface temperatures collected by buoys anchored in the high seas, and weather stations located throughout the country.

According to a senior weather scientist, "nearly 20-30% of the received aircraft observations are assimilated into the numerical weather prediction models." Officials said the missing link in weather observations was flagged at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), which set in motion a series of actions to make the critical data available to the weather office.

According to a senior official, it is mandatory for airlines worldwide to transmit AMDAR data for meteorological purposes, but the IMD does not have access to this data for a variety of reasons.

On July 1, the National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting in Noida, which houses the weather office's supercomputers, received over 18,000 AMDAR reports from around the world, but only 55 from the region over India.

Following the PMO's intervention, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has now directed trans-receivers at various airports to relay AMDAR reports to the weather office over India. Similarly, domestic carriers send very few Aircraft Reports (AIREP) to the weather office, which are automated reports of in-flight weather conditions such as wind and temperature.

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