Scientists from Sri Lanka, India and US to jointly study Indian Ocean weather phenomena


The country is facing its second phase of bad weather stricken within weeks. In this aftermath, a group of oceanographic scientists from USA was in Sri Lanka last week initiating talks with Sri Lankan scientists to start a collective research on Indian Ocean Weather phenomena. The weather in the region is mainly affected by the Indian Ocean Monsoon that has been subject to many variations of the Bay of Bengal which was the main target of the discussions. In this era of Climate Change (caused by Global Warming) and other oceanic phenomena like La Nina already been affecting the traditional monsoon rainfall patterns, the new research initiative expects to shed new insight into understand the weather changes in the region assisting to make more accurate forecasts.

The research however still is at the planning stage and the initial meeting was held at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel last Thursday (03rd.Feb) with the participating of leading Sri Lankan researchers on the field of Oceanography and scientific research. The project expected to be funded by the office of Naval Research of United State is code named ASIRI (Air-Sea Interactions in Northern Indian Ocean). The air and sea interaction patterns in the Indian Ocean are the driving force that decides the monsoon weather according to the experts. The North Indian Ocean is a unique semi-enclosed tropical ocean basin compared to the rest of the tropical oceans due to its location. As a result, the hydrologic response of Indian Ocean Monsoons can bringing in more rain than by any other mechanism and can affect the livelihood of well over a billion people in the region, directly or indirectly. Better understanding of this air-sea interaction will be help to improve predictability of the Indian Ocean monsoons according to these experts.

Researchers also points out that the Indian Ocean monsoon vary from year to year and even day to day, making it one of the most difficult meteorological phenomena of the world to predict. The new trends triggered by the global warming such as flow of more freshwater to the Bay of Bengal by the melting Himalayan Glaziers etc, can change the composition of the Ocean Water which may results in changing the dynamics that can bring in other impacts, raising the need to study the monsoon phenomena more closely.

A main aim of the intended project is to study the effects of the monsoon to the maritime naval traveling. Hence the naval experts from US and Sri Lankan Navy were also been partnered to the project from both countries. The US team consists of mainly the Sri Lankan and Indian scientists of Oceanography who are now attached to US universities. Prof. Harindra Joseph Fernando from the University of Notre Dame USA who is a leading member of the steering committee said the intended research is expected to be done as collaboration between India, USA and Sri Lanka. Team started the proceedings last year and currently being hold discussions to identify several outstanding research issues relate to the monsoon weather phenomena with scientists and government agencies in South Asia region.

The US team was in India earlier this week discussing similar research interests with the Indian Oceanographers. A team of Sri Lankan scientists of National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) led the discussions held last Thursday. NARA; been the main research arm of Oceanography in Sri Lanka presented the nature of Oceanographic studies the institute already being conducted.

This international collaboration is expected to bring about exchange of scientific and technical knowledge and open possibilities of further scientific collaboration in other areas too between these countries.

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