Kochi, Jun 20: In its effort to leverage space technology to provide region-centric, cost-effective and reliable information on weather patterns, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) are planning to set up 1,000 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) across the country in the next six months.
Centre for Monsoon Studies at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) Director C K Rajan, who is looking into feasibility and research aspects of the ambitious project, told UNI as part of the project, a pilot study has been underway for the last two years, whereby 350 ASWs have been installed -- 70 in northeastern states including Meghalaya, Assam, Sikkim and Uttarakhand, 75 in Tamil Nadu and 43 in Kerala.
The censor-fitted AWSs collect information relating to temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction, solar radiation and atmospheric pressure every hour and sent them to centres through satellites for processing.
Dr Rajan said AWS was a result of three to four years' research by ISRO and help provide relevant information relating to meteorology and weather to the society.
Compared to AWS produced in the US, Japan and Germany, which costs around Rs six to seven lakh apart from the high service and maintenance costs, the indigenously built equipment was cheaper at around Rs two lakhs, Dr Rajan noted.
ISRO started research on AWS to make weather prediction more useful to common people with the superlative space technology at its disposal.
Dr Rajan said two years of pilot study was very encouraging and one year's data of the states concerned had been compiled.
Through AWSs, by gauging the wind direction, humidity and temperature, it was possible to know about vector developments, new virus, information relating to air-borne or water-borne diseases prevalent or threatening an area.
The weather patterns in the nook and corner of the country would be available at one central point through this technology, he noted.
He said ISRO and IMD would be installing 1,000 ASWs across the country in the next six months and eventually IMD would be studying the data generated from the stations.
In order to ensure that the data available reaches the public, we are planning to conduct awareness programmes in urban areas through internet and district authorities, and in rural areas through Village Resource Centres and Village Knowledge Centres, he added.