The Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), operating under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), led a three-year-long cloud observational campaign over Solapur region, which ended in 2018.
Three years after the campaign ended, reports of the Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment (CAIPEEX) conducted over Solapur are yet to be finalised and may take some more months before they are made public.
The Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), operating under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), led a three-year-long cloud observational campaign over Solapur region, which ended in 2018. The campaign was carried out for 120 days using aircraft-based observations and a special C-band doppler radar. The observations generated through the campaign is estimated to be 100 to 200 Terabytes, which the scientists have been analysing since then.
During the consecutive drought years of 2014 and 2015, the Maharashtra government resorted to using cloud-seeding facilities from a private agency to generate artificial rain over Marathwada, which remains parched for most months in a year. While the effort cost the then state government a sizeable amount, it was not as successful as expected.
It was then that the MoES entrusted its scientists at IITM to study cloud conditions, carry out campaigns and come up with recommendations to address future drought situations using cloud- seeding techniques.
“The scientists are currently preparing the reports and finalising them. The report will be submitted to the MoES. Once approval is granted, it will be released to the public. We are some months away from submission,” said Ravi Nanjundaih, director of IITM.
On the observations, CAIPEEX Project Director Thara Prabhakaran said, “We are following all criteria laid down by the World Meteorological Organisation. It is a complex process to analyse and draw inferences. It is on the basis of this scientific report that governments will decide whether or not to conduct cloud-seeding experiments to generate artificial rain over a region.”
Since 2018, IITM has also been involved in developing a test-bed facility in Bhopal in partnership with Sagar University. This one-of-its-kind facility in the tropical belt will be used to study atmospheric systems and monsoon clouds intercepting the central India region — the monsoon core belt.
However, it is still in the installation phase, informed Nanjundaih. “Some basic instrumentation and C-band radar installation is complete. We are still in the process of procurement of equipment for the site,” he said.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, too, is another reason for the delay in making the Bhopal test bed operational. Some of the installations planned last year, and during April and May this year, were hampered due to lockdowns and other restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.
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