Operational Agrometeorological Services to Cope with Risks and Uncertainties of Natural Disasters

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UnitedStates (U.S.A.)

tte U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) was created in 1870 and was officially transferred to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1891 and then to the Department of Commerce (DOC) on June 30,1940. As early as 1941, operational agrometeorological services were provided for orchardists under DOC and USDA weather, climate, and agricultural activities, tte farmers were advised on conditions suitable for spray on fruit trees. Pioneering research at USDA resulted in the publication of "Atlas of Climatic Types in the United States 1900-1939" (Motha et al. 2006), categorizing climate by moisture regimes, providing definitions of effective precipitation, the use of vegetation as climatic indicators, and discussions of climate variations. While the meteorological requirements of USDA are numerous, they can be categorized into four basic areas, ttey include: current measurement and observational data and services; climate services including the summarization of historical weather data, the analyses of climatological data to characterize climate conditions or regimes for different geographical areas or time periods, and the development of normals, freeze probabilities, and drought indices; forecasting services including the prediction of future weather events or climatic conditions and their associated probabilities that impact agriculture, forestry and rangelands; and other services such as consultation, analyses of particular weather events, interpretation of forecast materials, monitoring and summarizing recent weather events, weather briefings and summaries, special studies and analyses, and user education (Motha et al. 1997; Rippey et al. 2000). USDA has a vast need for weather and climate data to assist agriculturalists with their management operations, which include strategic decisions such as what to plant, or tactical decisions including when to irrigate. As a result, USDA agrometeorological services that assist farmers directly or indirectly in their decision-making process require a detailed set of weather information. Based on this information, certain operational agrometeorological services have been developed by USDA of which the most important are as follows:

Weekly Weatherand Crop Bulletin (WWCB)

In 1872, the then "Division of telegrams and reports for the benefit of commerce" in the War Department began publishing the "Weekly Weather Chronicle" for the benefit of commerce and agriculture. It evolved into the present Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WWCB). It contains a global summary of weather for each week and also provides information pertinent to regional, national, and international agricultural weather. Detailed maps and tables of agrometeorological information for appropriate seasons along with a summary of weather and crop information are provided. In the bulletin, the report usually discusses crop weather conditions suitable for field work and crop development, pests and disease outbreak, soil moisture conditions, crop progress, and livestock conditions, tte bulletin is an effective means of distributing weather information to farmers and the public, tte WWCB has been cooperatively produced by USDA since 1978. tte users of this agrometeorological service range from farmers to marketing agencies of agricultural products.

JointAgricultural Weather Facility (JAWF)

ttis is a global agrometeorological service which was established in 1978 and serves as USDA's overall focal point for weather/climate information and agricultural impact assessments, tte JAWF was created as a world agricultural weather information center, located in USDA, and is jointly staffed and operated by the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, tte primary mission of this facility is to monitor global weather and determine the potential impacts on agriculture, tte JAWF provides information on weather related developments and their effect on crops and livestock, ttis information in turn helps the decision-makers in formulating crop production forecasts and trade policy. In addition, JAWF developed a Data Base Management System (DBMS), which effectively manages a global weather, climate, and agriculture data base for analyses. CIS techniques are utilized in the products of DBMS, which enhance the analytical capability of the agrometeo-rologists to produce crop-weather assessments. In May 1996, a JAWF field office (a weather/GIS data center) was established at the Mississippi State University (MSU) to meet the local demands for agricultural weather information required for research and production agriculture in the Delta growing region, tte main mission of this facility is to ensure collection and archival of vital agricultural weather data in the Mississippi Delta, ttis center provides weather and climate data, crop progress information, tailored products using GIS, and weekly weather briefings to researchers, producers, county extension agents, and agricultural industries in the Delta. A product called "Node above white flower five rule" is an unique agrometeorological product developed from the research at the center, tte cotton planting recommendation is based on soil temperature and other agrometeorological products from this center.

U.S. DroughtMonitor

Comprehensive weather, water, soil moisture, mountain snow amount, and climate observations are the foundations of monitoring and assessment activity that alerts the nation to impending drought. An operational drought product called the U.S. Drought Monitor was established in 1999 and since then has been considered a major agrometeorological service to the nation. JAWF contributes to the Drought Monitor. It monitors drought conditions including aerial extent, severity, and type around the country. Over the last 6 years, this product has become a highly successful agrometeorological tool for assessing the development and duration of drought conditions, tte significant reason for the outstanding success of this agrometeorological service is the process of information by many experts located across the country, tte Drought Monitor is a dynamic product, the uses of which range from farmers to government policy-makers.

National Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Water and Climate Center (WCC)

NRCS's cooperative Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecast (SS/WSF) program provides farmers and other water management groups in the western states with water supply forecasts to enable them to plan for efficient water use management, tte program also provides the public and the scientific community with a database that can be used to accurately determine the extent and amount of seasonal snow resources, tte SS/WSF also provides nationwide climate services to the NRCS and USDA in partnership with other Federal agencies and universities, tte SS/WSF operates a 715-station SNOTEL (SNOw TELemetry) network in the western U.S. and a Ill-station SCAN (Soil Climate Analysis Network) in 39 states throughout the U.S. and Caribbean, tte SS/WSF program provides essential products from these data networks necessary to monitor and mitigate drought and floods, tte SS/WSF program has also sponsored the development of the Applied Climate In formation System (ACIS) for information dissemination, and the PRISM climate mapping technology used for spatial analysis worldwide.

25.3.2 India tte India Meteorological Department (IMD) was established in 1875. It is the national meteorological service of the country and the principal Government agency in all matters pertaining to agricultural meteorology. One of the major objectives of this department is to provide meteorological statistics required for agriculture (Rao 2004). India has diverse agroclimatic regions with large variations of rainfall ranging from 150 mm in the northwest/western part of the country to over 10,000 mm in the northeast region. Two thirds of the country comes under arid and semi-arid region, ttis area is prone to recurrent droughts, tte vast Indian coastal belt is frequently affected by cyclonic storms. Over 40 million ha of land area in the country is vulnerable to floods, out of which, about 8 million ha is severely affected by floods each year, tte country's hilly region is prone to land slides due to heavy rains and the Himalayan region to avalanches, ttese risks and uncertainties cause major setbacks to agriculture and the economy, tterefore, a number of initiatives are taken by the Government of India to improve various types of agrometeorological services for managing the weather related disasters, risks, and uncertainties as detailed below.

Flood meteorological offices and cyclone forecasting and warning systems tte IMD established 10 flood meteorological offices in areas prone to floods, ttese offices issue operational agrometeorological services like prevailing synoptic situation, heavy rainfall warnings and quantitative precipitation forecasts which are highly useful to the all farmers in general and the poorest of the poor in particular across the nation, tte IMD also has developed a well established organizational setup for observing, detecting, tracking, and forecasting cyclones and issuing cyclone warnings, tte frequency of occurrence of cyclones in eastern India is presented in Figure 25.1. tte cyclone warning bulletins are issued to state owned radio stations and televisions and disseminated through landline telegrams, police stations, telex, telephones, fax, cell phones, bulletins to the press, internet, satellites, etc.

Agrometeorological advisories tte Agrometeorological Advisory Service in the country was started first in the India Meteorological Department in 1976. Agrometeorological advisories are bul-

Cree Worksheets
Fig. 25.1. District wise occurrence of tropical cyclones for Andhraand Orissa coasts (1877 - 2000) (source: Chittibabu et al., 2004)

letins prepared for farmers, taking into account prevailing weather, soil, crop condition, and weather prediction. In these bulletins, the suggestions on measures practiced are provided to minimize the losses and optimize inputs in the form of irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides, drought mitigation strategies like water management, minor and micro irrigation, water conservation, crop management, crop rotation, inter cropping, planting date, crop variety, alternate land use systems, fuel and fodder plantation, Silvi pasture, Agro horticulture, Agro forestry, and livestock management, ^e IMD issues Agrometeorological Advisory Service bulletins twice a week in an operational mode in consultation with the Director of Agriculture of the respective States and disseminated through All India Radio, Doordarshan, newspaper, Internet, etc. On the basis of long-range forecast, an important agrometeorological service, various pre-emptive and relief measures like procurement, transport, storage, and distribution of food grains are taken by the Government.

National CenterforMedium-Range WeatherForecasting (NCMRWF)

tte NCMRWF was established in 1988 by the Government of India as a scientific mission to develop operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) models for forecasting weather in the medium-range (3-10 days in advance) scale and setting up of agrometeorology advisory service units in the 127 agroclimatic zones of the country, tte Agrometeorology Advisory Service farmers (AAS Farmers) receive the medium-range weather forecast based on the agrometeorological advisories, including optimum use of inputs for different farm operations. Due to judicious and timely use of inputs, the cost of production of AAS farmers reduced approximately by 3-6%. At the same time, the yield level of the AAS farmers also increased. tte increased yield level and reduced cost of production led to increased net returns. Otherservices

Some other activities tailored to meet the user communities are on the dry farming meteorology, which helps the dry land farmers to minimize the uncertainty of rainfed agriculture. Similarly, the forecasts on desert locust meteorology help in issuing the warnings about the migrations of locust in relation to low-level flow and to support the plant protection and quarantine and storage directorate in their locust eradication programmes, tte satellite instructional television experiment (SITE) started functioning in 1975, catering to mass communications by giving weather information, advising on sowing operations, application of insecticides, cautioning on floods, etc. tte crop weather calendars (Figure 25.2) prepared by the IMD on cereals, pulses, oilseeds crops, etc., improve the knowledge of farmers on the weather elements influencing the crop and help in planning agricultural operations and taking up precautionary measures, tte drought research unit, started at Pune in 1967, prepares aridity anomaly maps for the country during kharif season (June to September) in order to monitor droughts over the country on a realtime basis, ttese are prepared on a fortnightly basis and also provide information about the crop stress conditions and its intensity experienced by the plants, and thus help to monitor the drought situation in the country.

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