Post-Ockhi, scientists working on new model for better prediction of intensity of cyclones
Cyclone Ockhi in 2017 was one of the most intense cyclones to hit the Indian coast
New Delhi: Ever since cyclone Ockhi ravaged parts of the southern coast last December, scientists have been focusing on atmosphere-ocean coupling to predict the intensity of cyclones.
Considered one of the most intense tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea, Ockhi had intensified within a short span. “The low pressure became a depression and intensified into a cyclone within a few hours. May be the heat potential in the region was vast, which made it develop faster than the forcing that comes with earth’s rotation. This is what we are focusing on,” said S.C. Shenoi, director at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad.
The Indian Ocean has also been warming rapidly in recent decades, triggering concerns of severe cyclonic storms.
There is a decrease in the frequency of tropical cyclones globally, but the intensity has increased in some basins, including the Arabian Sea, according to scientists.
“Warmer ocean temperatures not only intensify the cyclone, but also increase its lifespan. Observations and modelling efforts by India has paid off and we are able to better monitor and forecast the cyclone tracks, but there is still some improvement required in forecasting the intensity accurately,” said Roxy Matthew Koll, from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.
Scientists at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), which is the nodal agency for cyclone forecasting, is working with INCOIS to develop the coupled ocean-atmosphere model that would help predict forecasts better.
“Apart from improving our accuracy in predicting the cyclone’s intensity and landfall, we are also looking at why it is happening and will fine tune the model accordingly. The ocean model will also help in projecting sea level rise due to warming,” according to Shenoi.
Scientists highlight that the coupled ocean-atmosphere model for cyclone warning will not only improve real-time forecast of the intensity and landfall location, but will also help in predicting the extent of storm surge in the area.
“If everything falls into place, the model could be made functional from the next cyclone period in 2019,” Shenoi said.
Given that the coastal topography has already been mapped by the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) using airborne laser terrain mapping (ALTM), scientists are also in a position to predict areas that can be inundated as sea-levels rise because of warming.
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