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Accurate Forecasts, Better Safety: Bengal Gets New Cutting-Edge Weather Radar

Rain, storms, snow and hail don't give prior notice. But this first-of-its-kind radar will!

Accurate Forecasts, Better Safety: Bengal Gets New Cutting-Edge Weather Radar

In an effort to assist and benefit the agriculture and aviation sectors and disaster management efforts, a 53 MHz Stratosphere Troposphere (ST) Radar, the first-of-its-kind in eastern and northeastern India, to study rain, storm and turbulence, will be set up in Haringhata in Nadia, West Bengal.

The work will be undertaken by Calcutta University’s Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics.

West Bengal's hi-tech weather radar, will be able to relay accurate information.Representative image only. Image Courtesy: Geograph.
West Bengal’s hi-tech weather radar, will be able to relay accurate information.Representative image only. Image Courtesy: Geograph.

The project, which is estimated to cost ₹ 23 crore, is funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board of the Central Government’s Science and Technology Department.

Amlan Chakraborty, the Dean of Technology at Calcutta University, says that terrestrial weather and its variability have a vital role to play in the lives of common people.

Most weather-related phenomena, like rain, storm, snow, fog and mist, usually originate 6-7 km above the earth’s surface. To make a correct forecast, it will be essential to monitor this part of the atmosphere through high-resolution images, around the clock.

According to scientists, the radar will be able to study the convection process in the troposphere, characterise rain structure based on radar signatures of precipitating layers, study lower-middle atmospheric turbulence and note irregularities in the ionospheric E and F regions.

The radar, (a pilot version of the radar is operational at the field station) will be able to provide information up to 22 km. The data obtained, will be shared with various government agencies and scientists from India and abroad.

While Calcutta University won this project a few years ago, the permissions from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, to set up the facility at the required 53 MHz, only came through last year, according to Animesh Maitra, the former principal project investigator. He had retired in March 2017 but is still associated with the project as the Basic Science Research faculty (Emeritus) Fellow of the UGC.

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Deciding on the specifications of the equipment took time as well, says Maitra, as the Centre had to be convinced about the frequency band, without which, the radar cannot detect back-scattered signals from the ionosphere, extending from 60 km above the earth’s surface to 1,000 km.

The hi-tech radar, with its wide range, should hopefully provide the weather department with the accurate data they need for their functions.

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