Scientists from Britain and India will release underwater robots into the Bay of Bengal in a bid to more accurately predict the Indian monsoon critical to millions of farmers, they said on Tuesday. Researchers will also fly a plane carrying scientific equipment over the bay to measure the atmosphere as part of the multi-million pound study of the monsoon which hit southern India lastweek. Better forecasting will improve the livelihoods of India's more than 200 million farmers and agricultural labourers, who are reeling from devastating drought. Scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) will release seven underwater robots from an Indian ship next week to study how ocean processes influence monsoon rainfall.
At the same time, colleagues from the University of Reading and climate experts in India will use instruments on board the plane flying from the southern city of Bangalore to measure heat and moisture in the air.
The robots, which have computers onboard and look like miniature yellow submarines, will spend a month moving through a southern section of the bay, to measure temperature, salinity and currents.
“The Indian monsoon is notoriously hard to predict. It is a very complicated weather system and the processes are not understood or recorded in science,” lead researcher Adrian Matthews said. “Nobody has ever made observations on this scale during the monsoon season itself so this is a truly groundbreaking project,” he said.
More than half of India’s farms lack irrigation for their crops, meaning they depend almost entirely on the annual rains.
More precise predictions of the monsoon, which sweeps up from the Indian Ocean which extends into the bay, can also help hundreds of millions better prepare for droughts and floods.
Beamed backed to scientists via satellite signals, the information will be used to create computer models of the ocean to determine how it affects weather and rainfall over India. — AFP