NIOT portal to share buoy data to predict cyclone intensity

Project a collaboration between Ministry of Earth Sciences and NOAA

The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) will soon launch a portal to share data from both its buoy network and U.S. agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for better understanding and study of cyclones and monsoons in Indian ocean.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences is collaborating with NOAA in this regard. The portal will have data from NOAA’s 25 weather buoys and eight Indian ocean moored buoy network of NIOT. These buoys fitted with meteorological and oceanographic sensors, provide measurements once in three hours and help in weather prediction.

R. Venkatesan, group head, Ocean Observation Systems, NIOT, said it was developing the portal with INCOIS (The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services). The initiative would provide global recognition to the data collated from Indian buoy network and also help understand movement and intensity of the cyclones.

The network of 12 buoys, including coastal and deep ocean, between Chennai and Andaman and Nicobar islands and northern Bay of Bengal have sensors to measure various parameters such as ocean current, salinity, sea surface temperature and wave height.

The buoy network had captured the movement and intensification of the recent cyclones – Cyclone Tauktae and Cyclone Yaas. The weather models of the Meteorological Department had also processed the oceanographic data for forecasts on cyclones and their landfall, he said.

NIOT has recently started providing data on tropical cyclone heat potential which is a measurement of heat content in the upper ocean. The ocean heat content helps in understanding the intensification of a cyclone.

The buoys had also recorded significant wave height in Bay of Bengal of 9.49 metre during cyclone Yaas. Such data are essential to understand the magnitude of the cyclones, he added.

Maintenance of the buoy network is proving to be a challenging task during the pandemic. A team of scientists and engineers need to travel thrice a year to replace the components of buoys and have them functional and transmit crucial data.

NIOT’s director G.A.Ramadass said a team would be sailing in a couple of days to the sea close to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It takes nearly a month to sail for the team to complete buoy maintenance. The instruments anchored at a depth of 4.5 km in the seabed are removed and redeployed with new components. Some of these buoys also provide data for tsunami warning.

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