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Indian Science Minister participates in study on monsoon variability partly funded by Newton Fund

11 July 2016

The Indian Minister of Science, Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan commended the growing UK-India research partnership, as he  participated in the UK-India observational campaign to study monsoon variability today in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

Dr Harsh Vardhan boarded the UK’s Atmospheric Research Aircraft today from the Lucknow airport to  understand how the UK and Indian scientists have teamed up  to use this state-of-art aircraft through a large-scale observational campaign in India, to gather data that will improve understanding of the physical processes of the South Asian monsoon and their improved representation in weather and climate models.

This campaign is part of the UK-India research programme on the Drivers of Variability in the South Asian Monsoon, a collaboration between the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO) of the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Met Office.

This aircraft is managed by the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) which is a collaborative operation between NERC and Met Office.

This is one of the most ambitious campaigns that started in May 2016 for a period of two months and for the first time this research aircraft has undertaken science in India. Some the early outcomes of this flying campaign include:

  1. Seasonal survey of the monsoon regimes in northern India
  2. Surveys of the monsoon winds associated with Western Ghats rainfall and the southeast Indian “rain shadow”
  3. Analysis of land-atmosphere interaction over a variety of climatic zones in India
  4. Analysis of air-sea interaction in the Bay of Bengal
  5. Pollution interactions with the monsoon
  6. Assessing air quality over regional scales

The project has received combined funding from NERC (£3.5 million), Newton Fund (£1.5 million), and UK’s Met Office (£0.7 million) with matched resources from MoES.

This UK-India research programme  complements the National Monsoon Mission program launched by MoES in 2012 with an aim to improve monsoon prediction at all temporal and spatial scales through joint efforts of national and international scientific communities.

Dr Alexander Evans, British Deputy High Commissioner, New Delhi; Dr Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, Secretary MoES; officials from Research Councils UK India and researchers from the UK and India, accompanied the Minister on this flight.                            

Soon after the visit the Minister and Dr Alexander Evans along with officials addressed a joint press conference sharing their experience on board the research plane and the data being gathered. The Minister said that the UK and India share a strong research collaboration and it is growing from strength to strength. This large scale observational campaign involving the UK’s research aircraft and India’s Sindhu Sadhna research ship are carving a new way in understanding monsoon and its predictability.

Dr Alexander Evans, British Deputy High Commissioner of New Delhi said “the Monsoon is crucial to people across India and South Asia – and so is understanding how it functions and varies. This vital joint research initiative shows India and the UK working together to improve scientific understanding through our growing research collaboration. I am very grateful to the Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, for his commitment and support, and look forward to the Tech Summit in November 2016 which will further deepen UK-India cooperation.”

RCUK India has facilitated a very strong collaboration between  ESSO-MoES and the  NERC over the last 5 years. Under this thriving partnerhip, several other major research programmes have taken place, such as: Changing Water Cycle; Atmospheric Pollution and Human Health in an Indian Megacity; Sustaining Water Resources for Food, Energy and Ecosystem Services and UK-India Joint Centre on Water Security.

From RCUK website