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National Facility for Airborne Research
 
(Chief Project Scientist: Dr. C.G. Deshpande)
 
 
 
During the weak monsoon conditions, there have been demands for the cloud seeding operations for rain enhancement. The operational programmes carried out in the last few years by various state governments were not scientifically planned also no observations of environment as well as clouds were taken. Hence no conclusions could be drawn regarding the impact of the seeding. In this situation there is a strong and urgent need for a definitive and authoritative conclusion to be drawn primarily for the scientific reasons to understand different pathways and secondarily to provide science based guidance to state governments and other social organizations who consider seeding as a solution to mitigate the drought conditions. 
 
To address the above referred issues IITM undertook a national experiment ‘Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment (CAIPEEX)’ using hired instrumented aircraft (2009-11). The CAIPEEX had two phases over monsoon season of three years. Phase I was carried out in the monsoon season of 2009 while Phase II in the monsoon seasons of 2010 and 2011. In Phase I Instrumented aircraft was used to collect data on aerosols and cloud microphysics during the period 14 May – 30 September 2009. 219 hours of flying was done over different parts of the country. The flights were conducted from Pune, Pathankot, Bareilly, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Guwahati. In Phase II, the South African Aero Commander was used for the research and Turbo Thrush, Agricultural Aircraft for seeding of the hygroscopic material, both in the monsoon season of 2010 and 2011. Total 450 hours of flying were carried out and wealth of data has been collected.
 
The CAIPEEX opened a new era in the field of airborne observations of atmospheric sciences in India and provided unique opportunity for IITM and Indian scientists to familiarize with the various aspects of aircraft measurement programs. First time exhaustive data of cloud microphysics and vertical profiles of aerosol were collected. The data have been quality controlled and has been opened to Indian Scientific community. However, the hurdles experienced in hiring the aircraft in CAIPEEX program prompted the necessity of having our own aircraft. Benefits in having own aircraft are (i) cost saving in the long run, (ii) specific airborne experiments can be conducted, (iii) flexibility to plan need-specific experiments/measurements, (iv) can be operated from any airstrip in India with basic prior permissions. This facility will be on the model of the University of Wyoming and NCAR. The aircraft will be used at the National Facility Airborne Research (NFAR).     
  
The programme will have the following objectives:
 

To procure an instrumented aircraft as national facility for airborne research.

  • To conduct atmospheric airborne measurements to address specific research problems.
  • To conduct observations of cloud microphysical parameters, aerosols, radiation, trace gases over Indian region during different atmospheric conditions.
  • To understand the various path ways through aerosol influence the rainfall process in the clouds.
  • To develop cloud microphysics scheme to improve the numerical model forecast based on the observations.
  • To test and develop cloud seeding scheme suitable to Indian cloud systems to enhance the precipitation.

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