Tag: Rainfall (page 1 of 3)

Help us grow the Bangalore Citizen Weather Network

by Saurabh Chandra

An update is due since our last announcement in July. We have been making announcements on twitter and Facebook but here is a brief summary of the progress made till date.

Our technology partner Yuktix has deployed 7 automated weather stations across Bangalore. In the last 6 months or so, the automated weather station (AWS) has been running robustly since the last 4 months or so (except for a DNS issue with Airtel last week). There is a version with solar backup and a version that is directly plugged-in to power too. We have versions with institutional mountings and also with light-weight balcony mounts. Each AWS has:

  1. Temperature, Pressure and Humidity sensors mounted inside a Stevenson Screen
  2. A rain bucket with a tipping bucket sensor
  3. A control unit that beams the data reliably over the mobile network (each station comes with a pre-paid data plan for 3 years

The AWS transmits data continuously every few minutes to the cloud and the data is available in graphs or is downloadable for analysis by anyone. An Android app will be available soon to view the data.

We are excited to announce that our field trial phase is successfully closed and we are now open to taking pre-orders for stations that you can play host to. Our target is to pepper Bangalore with 25+ stations and create an open data network of the same. For this community project we have a special price from Yuktix for personal stations at 35k (without solar) + installation charges if any. The stations will take 4-5 weeks for delivery from the time of pre-order.

Fill this form for your pre-order and join the network.

Saurabh Chandra is a tech entrepreneur in Bangalore and a weather enthusiast at Know Your Climate.

In Citizen Matters: Weather Web around Bangalore

Know Your Climate and the Bangalore Citizen Weather Network is featured in Citizen Matters today.

Two young weather enthusiasts from the city have initiated the Citizen Weather Network that aims to capture real-time weather data from 30 locations in Bengaluru and make it freely available for public view over a web API. With five stations already installed in different parts of the city, they have started tracking Bengaluru’s microclimate. These indigenously developed Automated Weather Stations (AWS) house sensors for recording temperature, pressure, humidity and rainfall. Each weather station costs under Rs 50K.

The initiative, the brainchild of Pavan Srinath, Head of Policy Research at Takshashila Institution in Ulsoor, started in the form of a blog – Know Your Climate. As Srinath puts it, the blog was an attempt to make a serious study on the climate change by analysing the existing data available in the public domain, and placing it before the public in a simpler way. In 2014, Saurabh Chandra, CEO of Razorfish Neev, joined hands with Srinath to bring the idea to fruition.

Srinath says, “We approached Rajeev Jha of Yuktix Technologies to work towards building an indigenous weather station. Jha accepted the challenge and within eight months the first two Automated Weather Stations were ready.” The pilot stations were installed on the rooftop of Srinath’s house in Jayanagar and Saurabh’s house in Hebbal. Each station was developed at a cost of under Rs 50,000, much lower compared to the conventional stations that are built at a cost of Rs 2 lakh.

The modular weather stations are installed with sensors for measuring four factors – temperature, pressure, humidity and rainfall. While temperature, pressure and humidity sensors are housed within a radiation shield, the rain gauge is maintained separately. All these are connected to a main circuit board that logs all the data. The data is updated once in every three minutes which helps gauge the intensity of rain and weather pattern over time.

Jha vouches for the reliability of the data generated using the considerably cheap, but accurate sensors. “The instruments that we use in the station have been chosen after studying the specifications for an Automatic Weather Station published by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD),” he says.

These sensors collect the sample of the environment every 15 seconds. As many as 12 samples are taken for each transmitted reading. “We provide the data in par with the standards set by the IMD and World Meteorological Organisation. I can assure data accuracy of +/- 0.1 degree,” he affirms.

Read the full article at Citizen Matters

Citizen Weather Network Featured in Bangalore Mirror

Know Your Climate and the Citizen Weather Network are featured in Bangalore Mirror today by Jayanthi Madhukar.

Every Bangalorean has said it at least once in their lifetime — it is getting hotter nowadays. But if one happens to say this to Pavan Srinath, he’ll probably ask, “Where is the data supporting the statement?”

But who needs weather data? Isn’t it better to crib and whine about the weather? Srinath laughs. “It is highly interesting to know about one’s microclimate,” he attempts to explain. “If I get a weather update saying it will start raining here at Ulsoor at 5.30pm, I will plan to leave the office earlier to avoid a traffic jam.” One wishes.

[Full Article – Bangalore Mirror, September 14, 2014]

WeatherWatchers1x WeatherWatchers2x

Not every disaster is man-made

By Pavan Srinath

Uttarakhand has been a scene of unfolding horror for the past four days, and is a human tragedy occuring at a scale that is staggering. For many people in India, it is also a disaster that hits home – as millions have visited Uttarakhand on pilgrimage and have seen the places that we now see on the television with dread.

The scale of damage due to floods is not yet known, but is certainly immense. The loss of human lives above all, and the destruction of public and private property will likely haunt the residents for many years. The loss of lives, currently estimated in the hundreds – can go up to the thousands or even more, given the large number of people currently reported as missing. A disaster such as this requires rapid, thorough rescue and relief operations, of which by all counts the army and the state officials are doing an admirable job. Thereafter comes time for rebuilding and sombre reflection, as well as thorough investigations into the causes for the disaster, the amplifiers, and the role of human error, malfeasance and failures.

What do we have instead? Loud war cries that the disaster in Uttarakhand was man-made, and that political parties gave in to various mafias and increased the scale of destruction unleashed upon much of Uttarakhand.

One human factor that can be brough into this discussion as a causative agent is climate change, but only with great care. While anthropogenic climate change has been established as a very likely cause for the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in India and elsewhere in the world, there are two strong caveats to this link. First, it is impossible to say whether an individual event has a greenhouse gas or a warm climate footprint. This is the case for everything from Hurricane Sandy to the cloudburst over Uttarakhand. Second, empirical evidence for the relationship between the monsoon and climate change is still very limited. There are many theories on what climate change is likely to do to the Indian summer monsoon, but much of it is still unknown. While the summer monsoon hit the coast of Kerala around the usual date this year, its march over the long leagues from Kanya Kumari to the Himalayas was exceptionally quick. The most honest, if uncomfortable, statement is that we don’t know if climate change caused the cloudburst over Uttarakhand, nor do we know that climate change could make such events more frequent or intense.

The reasons for declaring the disaster as man-made were given in a Down to Earth home page feature as the increase in hydel projects in the state, roads and infrastructure destabilising the mountains, and development increasing the frequency and intensity of landslides.

Is any of this true? On the first count of hydroelectric power projects and excessive dam-building in Uttarakhand, the reality is far from the rhetoric. While it is true that there are ambitious plans for dam construction in the state, especially on the Ganga and its tributaries, very few projects have actually been implemented and are operational. The map below from SANDRP shows that on the Ganga, only 16 hydel projects had been commissioned, 13 were under construction, and 54 were proposed as of a year or two ago. The picture has not changed rapidly since then. We can do better than blaming widespread floods on paper dams.

Source: http://sandrp.in/basin_maps

Source: http://sandrp.in/basin_maps

On all other counts of “development” causing or worsening the disaster, the litmus test is the impact at Kedarnath. The holy pilgrimage site of Kedarnath is a valley on the banks of the river Mandakini that lies high above much of the upper Gangetic basin at 3600 metres above sea-level [See Kedarnath on Google Maps]. Above it is wildnerness and  inhabitable mountains, and motorable roads are yet to reach the place. Pilgrims drive up to Gauri Kund, and trek up the last 14 kilometres, climbing some six thousand feet in the process. There are no roads, bridges or extensive artificial interventions around Kedarnath, except for the temple and surrounding hotels and housing that has sprung up.

In spite of this, Kedarnath has been among the worst hit areas in this disaster. Floodwaters swept into the settlement, bringing with them vast amounts of debris and cutting off access for about 8,000 people from the rest of the region.

We have to live in an evidence-free world to say that the horrific natural disaster that struck Kedarnath was man-made. Kedarnath, as the map below shows, lies high above even proposed dams and has only the most minimal amounts of development. It is the benchmark by which one can say that the flooding in Uttarakhand has been more prolific than any other in living memory, above and beyond any “man-made” effects.

Source: http://sandrp.in/basin_maps

Source: http://sandrp.in/basin_maps

All this has been said in full recognition of the fact that Uttarakhand has always been profoundly vulnerable to flooding, and that there has always been a high risk of natural disasters. The notion that such floods could happen some day was far from unknown. The hope that it may not happen to us or in our lifetimes as free of evidence as some of the claims I mentioned above. Places between Rudraprayag and Rishikesh on the Ganga have evidently not built any resilience against an event such as this.

Unfortunately, the value for human life in India still remains disturbingly low. It is specious to singularly blame governments for this, without also pointing fingers to all of us as a society. But it is certainly better to reflect on how we can build resilience to natural disasters than to think in terms of false choices such as “Is it just another flash flood or is it a man made disaster?“.

Originally written by Pavan Srinath in The Transition State blog on the Indian National Interest.

Bangalore – The Year so Far

A short post today to break the hiatus, where we take a look at the year’s rainfall so far.

A major limitation with the weather and climate discussions in popular media is that rainfall is discussed in terms of deficits and excess in terms of percentage points – which really conveys a lot lesser information than you might think. This gets condoned by the Met department as they rarely put out other kinds of information. Deficits and excesses should always be examined in the historical context – so that one can figure out how unusual or infrequent a certain event is. Monsoonal rainfall in India varies so much that few numbers actually end up breaking or making records – it’s a different and depressing story that even as a country we are not yet fully equipped to deal with even the likes of ‘normal variation’

With this in mind, given below is a graph of 57 years Bangalore’s rainfall data and calculated cumulative numbers – to examine the progress of the monsoon. The median line shows well, the median (50th percentile) progress of the monsoon – this means that at any point, 50% of the years got more rainfall than the black line, and 50% got lesser. Similarly, I’ve drawn lines for select percentiles and the maxima and minima. Overlaid on this is the current monsoon in red.

As you can see, the city was doing alright in terms of rainfall received, up until the monsoon started. Rainfall in June quite literally flatlined, taking Bangalore from an above-median rainfall regime to a below median one, quickly dropping below the 25th percentile line – what this means is that the city had received more rains in over 45 of the last 60 odd years. Things could have picked up if we had received good rains in July – but mediocre quantities of rain in July has kept us in the same low-rainfall regime.

A caveat here is that the historical data-set underestimates rainfall by a small amount – which means that the 2012 numbers may actually be worse in comparison, although not by much. As one can see, there is plenty of rainfall yet to be received in the year, on average. How much Bangalore will actually get in 2012, only time will tell.

Written by Pavan Srinath. Views are personal.

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