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Thursday, February 19, 2015

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National Symposium on “Weather and Climate Extremes” concluded at Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh today. The four day Symposium was organized by the Indian Meteorological Society in collaboration with PU.

More than 400 eminent scholars, operational meteorologists, researchers, planners, hydrologists, agriculturists, disaster managers, instrumentation scientists and technology developers from various states of India and other countries presented their research findings in the prestigious Symposium. They deliberated upon topics and issues like climate change, forecasting weather extremes, sectoral impacts of climate change and climate extremes and vulnerability and risk assessment. Over 108 research papers were presented, 9 plenary talks, 54 invited talks, 87 poster presentations and several industry presentations were conducted.

Speaking at the plenary session CRIDA, Hyderabad, Prof. VUM Rao urged for establishing initiatives for Climate Resilient Agriculture in India with agro meteorological forecasting at micro (block) level. He highlighted the emerging vagaries of climate change and the various initiatives by concerned agencies in this direction like National Initiatives on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA). He referred to the success stories of the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) established in the selected districts, and various other mechanisms being developed under NICRA, like Climate Resilient Livestock Research Centre and Environment Controlled House for Poultry. These efforts shall go a long way in providing security against climatic vicissitudes to the farmer and agriculturalist.

Senior Professor Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Dr D Behera effectively established the effect of climate change and particularly temperature variability on human health with specific reference to respiratory diseases. Cardio pulmonary diseases are affected by extreme conditions of heat and cold and aeroallergens rise with increasing level of carbon dioxide in the air, pollen, fungi, mold and many more. Asthma and allergy increase in these situations resulting in work loss and school absenteeism. He stressed the need for medical and meteorological scientists to work together to solve such problems.

Director, Snow & Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), Chandigarh, Dr A Ganju spoke on the hazards in Western Himalayas which are increasing due to rising temperatures. He underlined various hazards like avalanches, crevasses, landslides, GLOF in Western Himalayas. He emphasized that the behaviour of the glaciers, in various parts of the Western Himalaya is different, so, there is a need to configure models for different altitude levels for avalanche forecasting. He added that Avalanche Forecasting on seasonal basis as required the troops of the Indian Army deployed in these areas is already in progress.    

The experts and researchers were from institutes like PU, Department of Geography; SASE, Chandigarh; IIT Delhi; Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB); Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune; Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana; ICAR-Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), Hyderabad; National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad; National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA; National Centre for Environment Prediction, UK; George Mason University, USA and SRM University, Tamil Nadu.

The discussants at the panel discussion dwelled on disasters related to climate. The points that were raised included timely prediction of extreme events like flash flood, avalanche, cloud burst and heat and cold waves. The need to devise means of combating weather and climate extremes, improvement in forecasting methodologies and laying more stress on climate modelling was emphasized by the speakers. They stressed the need to improve co-operation and synergy among industry, government and academia and the exchange of information and technologies for better results. The need to learn from the experience of other countries was stressed. They also emphasized use of local variables to predict regional trends; the effect of global and regional trends on local climate was also highlighted. We have to find ways to disseminate knowledge and technology among users like common man, agriculturists and aviation industry. As weather and climate conditions affect day to day life and our entire food supply is dependent on optimum climate.

As an outcome of the 4 days of discussions and presentations in the symposium, the following points emerged:

It is vital that a Department of Earth Sciences is set up in each University for teaching and research; PU must lead the way with Department of Geography as the nodal center. The purpose of such an effort shall be to bring the educationists and end users together. The students are expected to find employment opportunities with several Government organizations including India Meteorological Department (IMD), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF),
The climate change studies needs to be more interdisciplinary in nature, incorporating the views of geographers, sociologists, economists, anthropologists, chemists and other stakeholders.  The effort to initiate a Department of Earth Sciences at PU with Department of Geography as nodal center, shall be a step in this direction.
Climate change and health is an important area of research and the health care provider, the academician and the meteorologist need to interact. Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) must take cognizance of this.

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