PIB News 23rd Oct, 2020

(General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management, Disaster and disaster management.)

India Meteorological Department Commissions Flash Flood Guidance Services for South Asia
Dr. M. Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences dedicated Flash Flood Guidance services, first of its kind for South Asian countries namely India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka on 22 October 2020. The system was launched virtually and was participated by distinguished National and International dignitaries including Dr. Hwirin Kim (Head of Hydrological and Water Resources Services Division, World Meteorological Organization), Dr. Konstantine P. Georgakakos (Director, Hydrologic Research Centre, USA), Shri G.V.V. Sarma IAS (Member Secretary NDMA, India), Dr. Rajendra Kumar Jain (Chairman, Central Water Commission, India) and Director General of Meteorology and Permanent Representative with WMO of the participating countries namely Shri Karma Dupchu, (Bhutan), Shri Saraju Kumar Baidya (Nepal) and Shri Athula Karunanayake (Sri Lanka) and Shri. Bidyut Kumar Saha (Hydrological Advisor to PR of Bangladesh to WMO).

In his inaugural address, Dr. M. Rajeevan, who was the Chief Guest of the function, brought out the need for enhancing the observational network for rainfall and soil moisture to improvise the performance of the system. An automated mode of dissemination is to be established with the stakeholders along with the use of social media, so that the information reaches to concerned disaster authorities in a timely manner. Regional & International coordination with member countries, Hydrologic Research Center & World Meteorological Organization must be strengthened for exchange of data, expertise, development and sustaining the services in the region, Dr. Rajeevan explained.

Dr. M. Mohapatra, Director General of India Meteorological Department and Permanent Representative of India with WMO delivered the opening address, highlighted salient features of the system and appreciated the collaborative work done in the field of capacity building for forecasting hydro-meteorological hazards. He assured the member nations that the Guidance for flash floods in the form of Threats (6 hours in advance) and Risks (24 hours in advance) will be provided by Regional Centre to National Meteorological & Hydrological Services, National and State Disaster Management Authorities and all other stake holders for taking necessary mitigation measures to reduce the loss of life and property in the South Asian Region countries.These include, apart from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. This will enable all the member countries for issuing impact-based forecasting at watershed and also city level, of floods which are very sudden and of short duration.

Flash Floods are highly localized events of short duration with a very high peak and usually have less than six hours between the occurrence of the rainfall and peak flood. There is general lack of flash flood warning capabilities and capacities of the nations across the world. Recognizing that flash floods have a particularly disastrous impact on lives and properties of the affected populations, the Fifteenth WMO Congress had approved the implementation of a Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) project with global coverage that had been developed by the WMO Commission for Hydrology jointly with the WMO Commission for Basic Systems and in collaboration with the US National Weather Service, the US Hydrologic Research Center (HRC) and USAID/OFDA.

India Meteorological Department has highly advanced capabilities with respect to computing power, Numerical Weather Prediction, vast observational network (ground, air and space based), and an internationally acclaimed Weather Forecasting System. Therefore, WMO has entrusted India with the responsibility of Regional Centre of South Asia Flash Flood Guidance System for coordination, development and its implementation.

The Flash Flood Guidance is a robust system designed to provide the necessary products in real-time to support the development of warnings for flash floods about 6- 12 hrs. in advance at the watershed level with resolution of 4kmx4km for the Flash Flood prone South Asian countries viz. India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

India Meteorological Department has tested the performance of the system during recent monsoon seasons in the preoperational mode and the Flash Flood Bulletins were issued to National Hydrological and Meteorological Services in the Region for its validation. The system has in-depth science, dynamics and diagnostics to provide guidance for the possible occurrences of flash floods at local level.


(General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations, Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)


After 35 years, India assumes the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization
After 35 years, India has assumed the Chairmanship of the Governing Body of International Labour Organization,  marking a new chapter in the 100 years of productive relationship between India and ILO.Shri Apurva Chandra, Secretary (Labour and Employment) has been elected as the Chairperson of the Governing Body of the International LabourOrganisation (ILO) for the period October 2020- June 2021. The Chairperson of the Governing Body of ILO is a position of international repute.

The Governing Body (GB) is the apex executive body of the ILO which decides policies, programmes, agenda, budget and elects the Director-General. At present ILO has 187 members. Shri Apurva Chnadra will be presiding over the upcoming meeting of the Governing Body to be held in November 2020. At Geneva, he would have the opportunity to interact with   the senior officials and social partners of the member states. It will also provide a platform to appraise participants of the transformational initiatives taken by Government in removing the rigidities of labour market besides makingits  intention clear about universalization of social security to all workers whether in organised or unorganised sector.

Shri Apurva Chandra belongs to the 1988 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Maharashtra Cadre. Shri Chandra has spent more than seven years in the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas in the Government of India. Shri Chandra has worked for over four years between 2013 and 2017 as Principal Secretary (Industries) in the Government of Maharashtra. Shri Apurva Chandra joined as Director General (Acquisition) in Ministry of Defence w.e.f. 01.12.2017 with the mandate of strengthening the Indian Armed Forces by expediting the acquisition process. He chaired the Committee to draft the new Defence Acquisition Procedure. The Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 has come into effect from 1st October 2020 on the day he joined the Ministry of Labour and Employment as Secretary.


(General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management, Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.)


Astronomers from NCRA-TIFR, Pune, and RRI, Bangalore uncover mystery behind decline of star formation rate after its peak 8-10 billion years ago
The research published in the journal Nature records the earliest epoch in the universe for which atomic gas content of galaxies has been measured

For long, scientists have been intrigued by the decrease in the rate at which stars were formed in galaxies after it peaked about 8-10 billion years ago. They have now deciphered the mystery behind this decline in star formation activity by measuring the atomic hydrogen of the galaxies.

Galaxies are made up mostly of gas and stars. Gas converts to stars with time. Understanding this conversion requires measurement of the atomic hydrogen gas, the primary fuel for star formation in galaxies in early times. Astronomers have long known that galaxies formed stars at a higher rate when the universe was young than they do today. But the cause of this decline is unknown, mostly because there was no information about the amount of atomic hydrogen gas at that time.

A team of astronomers from the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA-TIFR), Pune, and the Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India has used the upgraded Giant Metre wave Radio Telescope (GMRT), operated by NCRA-TIFR, to measure the atomic hydrogen content of galaxies seen as they were 8 billion years ago. The research carried out by Aditya Chowdhury, Nissim Kanekar, and Jayaram Chengalur of NCRA-TIFR, and Shiv Sethi, and K. S. Dwarakanath of RRI and published in the journal Nature records the earliest epoch in the universe for which atomic gas content of galaxies has been measured.

The research was funded by the Department of Atomic Energy, India, and DST, India.

“Given the intense star formation in these early galaxies, their atomic gas would be consumed by star formation in just one or two billion years. And, if the galaxies could not acquire more gas, their star formation activity would decline, and finally cease”, said Aditya Chowdhury, a Ph.D. student at NCRA-TIFR and the lead author of the study. “The observed decline in star formation activity can thus be explained by the exhaustion of the atomic hydrogen,” he added.

The measurement of the atomic hydrogen mass of distant galaxies was done by using the upgraded GMRT to search for a spectral line in atomic hydrogen.
K. S. Dwarakanath of RRI, a co-author of the study, mentioned, “We had used the GMRT in 2016, before its upgrade, to carry out a similar study. However, the narrow bandwidth before the GMRT upgrade meant that we could cover only around 850 galaxies in our analysis, and hence were not sensitive enough to detect the signal.”

“The big jump in our sensitivity is due to the upgrade of the GMRT in 2017”, said Jayaram Chengalur, of NCRA-TIFR, a co-author of the paper. “The new wideband receivers and electronics allowed us to use 10 times more galaxies in the stacking analysis, giving sufficient sensitivity to detect the weak average 21 cm signal.”

Detecting the 21 cm signal from the most distant galaxies in the universe was the main science goal of the GMRT when it was designed and built by a team led by Govind Swarup in the 1980s and 1990s. “Govind Swarup was very interested in this work and was following it keenly. Sadly, he passed away shortly before it was published. This work would not have been possible without him and the wonderful team that he put together to first build and then upgrade the GMRT”, said Nissim Kanekar of NCRA- TIFR, a Swarna Jayanti Fellow of DST and co-author of the study.

Technical explanation of GMRT up gradation

Unlike stars, which emit light strongly at optical wavelengths, the atomic hydrogen signal lies in the radio wavelengths, at a wavelength of 21 cm, and can only be detected with radio telescopes. Unfortunately, this 21 cm signal is very weak and difficult to detect from distant individual galaxies even with powerful telescopes like the upgraded GMRT. To overcome this limitation, the team used a technique called “stacking” to combine the 21 cm signals of nearly 8,000 galaxies that had earlier been identified with optical telescopes. This method measures the average gas content of these galaxies.




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