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Atmospheric Research Testbed (ART)

Published: 23rd Mar, 2024


The first phase of India’s Atmospheric Research Testbed in Central India (ART-CI) was inaugurated at Silkheda in Sehore district, located about 50 km northwest of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

1: Dimension- Significance of Atmospheric Research Testbed (ART)

  • The ART is an open-field, focused observational and analytical research programme at Silkheda.
  • The facility aims to conduct ground-based observations of weather parameters like temperature, wind speeds, etc. and in-situ (on-site) observations of the transient synoptic systems – like low-pressure areas and depressions that form in the Bay of Bengal – during the southwest monsoon season from June to September.
  • Studying these systems and their associated cloud parameters will be used to generate high volumes of data over a long period.
  • It can then be compared with the existing weather models so that improvements can be made to obtain accurate rainfall predictions.

2: Dimension-Need of having an Atmospheric Research Testbed

  • At present, 45% of India’s labour force is employed in the agriculture sector. Much of Indian agriculture is rain-fed, as is cultivation along the Monsoon Core Zone (MCZ), which spans the central India region from Gujarat to West Bengal.
  • The southwest monsoon season accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s annual average rainfall (880mm). Throughout India, the majority of Kharif cultivation is undertaken between July and August, which see an average monthly rainfall of 280.4mm and 254.9mm (1971–2020 average), respectively.
  • During this four-month-long season, several rain-bearing synoptic systems, namely the low pressures or depressions, develop in the Bay of Bengal. Inherently, these systems move westwards/north-westwards over to the Indian mainland and pass through the MCZ, causing bountiful rainfall.
  • Though IMD issues rainfall forecasts, there is still limited understanding about the role of these synoptic systems, their associated cloud physics, cloud properties and their overall role in enhancing the monsoon rainfall.

3: Dimension-Reason for choosing Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal)

  • The location Silkheda, falls directly in line with the path of major rain-bearing synoptic systems. This will facilitate direct monitoring and tracking.
  • Besides, the locality is pristine and free of anthropogenic and other pollutants, making it the best site in central India for setting up sensitive, high-end meteorological instruments and observatories for recording data.

Fact Box: Important Details of the Mission

  • Developed and Funded by: Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES)
  • The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, is in charge of the operations.
  • The facility will house 25 high-end meteorological instruments for studying vital cloud processes associated with the monsoons over central India’s Monsoon Core Zone (MCZ).

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