By Vinod Varshney
New Delhi, 17 December. There would be near zero diversion of aeroplanes due to fog at Indira Gandhi International Airport in 2-3 years thanks to a mega scientific project intended to develop an efficient forecasting model which would predict accurately the timing of fog and its intensity and duration.
The pilot project to be run by scientists and technologists of a dozen organisations including IIT-Delhi, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, India Meteorology Department, Indian Council of Agriculture research, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and Indian Air Force will undertake to collect real time data of fog formation, its continuance and dissipation at two locations in New Delhi.
Announcing the launch of the project today Dr M Rajeevan, secretary ministry of earth sciences told here today that 32 state of the art scientific instruments have been deployed to observe and analyse fog, some of them have been put on top of a 20 meter high watch tower. These include radiation meter and wind profiler that are being used in India for the first time.
Such a scientific exercise to understand the dynamic nature of fog’s behaviour has been undertaken by Paris and China in the past, but their research is not of much relevance to us since Indian atmospheric setting is different, told Dr L S Rathore, the director general of meteorology after the launch of the research project.
Dr Rathore explained that the generation of data related to fog is only one aspect of the research as equally important task is to consume data and back that up with the current knowledge to improve the existing forecasting model. Earlier there were two parallel roads, one leading to observation of fog and the other to develop a forecasting model. This time round, the scientific communities of the two different fields have come together. He explained that we receive synoptic level fog data from the satellite but they need to be complemented with the data at the micro level.
There is acute lack of understanding of fog while it is increasingly creating problems for the power transmission, road, rail and air transport and also impacting agriculture during winter. There are so many plant diseases which can be attributed to fog. Therefore, the second observation site has been established at ICAR institute, Pusa to study fog’s impact on agriculture.
Fog is generally understood as a visible mass consisting of cloud water droplets suspended in air or near the earth surface. It is considered as a type of low level cloud. The phenomenon of fog is more complicated than rain which is now being forecast quite successfully.
In case of fog it has been observed while it is quite intense at one runway at the airport but does not exist at all at another runway a few hundred meters away. Why? Then there are questions why occurrence of fog is increasing over the years. And is there any role of increasing pollution in increasing incidence of fog? The attempt to understand all this by studying its micro-physics and micro-chemistry has therefore become important.