New Delhi: IIT Delhi’s Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS) held a groundbreaking ceremony for a state-of-the-art Atmospheric Observatory on the Institute’s campus in Sonipat (Haryana) on Thursday. Dr. Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Chief Guest on this occasion, performed the groundbreaking ceremony through video conferencing.
IIT Delhi has provided a seed grant and allocated space to CAS on its Sonipat campus to establish this atmospheric observatory. This first of its kind observatory in the heart of the Indo-Gangetic belt will enable researchers to make new discoveries and help find sustainable solutions to some of the country’s pressing problems such as severe air pollution, erratic monsoon and extreme weather events associated with climate change.
Dr. Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences was joined by Prof. V Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi; Prof. Ashok Ganguli, Deputy Director (Strategy and Planning) and other dignitaries at the Sonipat campus.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Rajeevan called the observatory “an ambitious initiative” and promised support from the Ministry of Earth Sciences as it complements the efforts made by the ministry for improving the capability in the country to better predict air pollution, weather and climate through observations and modeling.
Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi said, “The observatory will be open for researchers from across the country as well as international collaborators to develop instrumentation technologies, measurement techniques, develop better satellite retrieval algorithms and using data to improve weather and climate models. We are reaching out to various stakeholders to generate support and funding required to make this a unique atmospheric observatory in the country. This will enable us to address some of the most pressing issues our society is facing.”
Prof. Krishna AchutaRao, Head of the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS) said, “The observatory will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment such as radars, lidars, mass spectrometers, and a satellite ground station. By observing air pollutants, greenhouse gases, clouds, radiation and meteorology simultaneously, the facility will transform science-based action.”
Why establish an atmospheric observatory?
In recent years, the problems of climate change and air pollution have taken on growing importance not just in the country, but the entire world. Much remains to be done to develop a full understanding of many processes that will be required for making predictions and policy interventions.
Why at Sonipat?
Sonipat, which is located upwind of Delhi NCR, is an ideal location for measurements not only of the transport of dust and air pollution, but also various meteorological, radiation and cloud observations as these are key to understanding daily variations in weather, long term climate changes.
What will the observatory measure?
The observatory will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment such as meteorological tower, wind profilers, radars for cloud and rain observations, greenhouse gases (GHG) monitors, and instruments for radiation and air pollution measurements such as aerosol chemical speciation monitor, particle sizer, spectrometers, particle counter and activity analyser etc.
How will the observatory advance our capabilities?
Ground-based and satellite observations of greenhouse gases and other pollutants will help us understand how the pollutants are formed and transported, how they affect air quality, extreme weather and global warming. This will help us to build better models to predict air quality, make more accurate forecasts of the monsoon, extreme weather and severe air pollution events. Continuous, long-term monitoring will help us get precise estimates of trends and better understand the impacts of policy interventions to minimize the staggering health and economic impacts of air pollution and climate change.