The research community in this country strongly felt a need for long term airborne measurements in respect of Aerosol sampling, measurement of cloud properties, cloud physics, Convective Tropical Convergence Zone (CTCZ), atmospheric chemistry, etc. to address all relevant scientific issues for improving the treatment of rain making processes in the monsoon environment in particular and other cloud-aerosol-radiative feedback mechanisms associated with the climate variability and change over India in times to come.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is in the process of procuring a research aircraft as the National Facility for Airborne Research (NFAR) in the 12th five year plan (2012-17) and it will be managed by IITM, Pune. This aircraft will be used for all airborne atmospheric research in the country and is planned to be positioned at Aurangabad. Depending on the research objectives, the aircraft operations will be conducted from different bases in the country. The research aircraft will carry several state-of-the-art sophisticated scientific instruments. At Aurangabad airport, facilities for maintenance and repair of aircraft, development, installation, calibration and modifications of scientific instruments onboard will be made available in the hangar.
Under the leadership of IITM, the National Facility for Airborne Research (NFAR) is being established by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Govt. of India to boost atmospheric research by providing an airborne platform for studying various atmospheric processes such as cloud-aerosol interactions, cloud microphysics and precipitation processes, atmospheric chemistry, dynamics and thermodynamics of the atmosphere, cloud-aerosol-radiative feedback mechanisms associated with the climate variability and change over the Indian sub-continent. Such a facility will help to meet the challenges of the expanding subject and to be at par with other atmospheric research communities in the world. A medium size twin engine turboprop pressurized aircraft is being procured for this facility. The airborne platform serving as a national facility will be managed by IITM.
As an Institutional activity under this project, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will be utilized to understand the atmospheric processes in the lower atmosphere. Accordingly, some UAVs are also being procured. This facility will also be used in air pollution assessment and associated impacts over India (health, visibility, climate) hydrological and water resources studies and enhancement of research infrastructure.
The airborne platform is projected as national facility which will cater the scientific need of several national research and educational institutions in the country. Following research activities/problems will be addressed at local/regional/national level:
- Cloud Aerosol Interaction studies
- Direct -Indirect aerosol effect
- Air Pollution studies- Mega cities/Urban
- Radiation studies
- Coastal pollution studies
- Urban visibility studies
- Flood/ Forestry/ City modelling
- Cloud microphysics and precipitation process studies
- Type of Aircraft : Twin engine turbo prop aircraft
- Service ceiling : 30000 ft
- Minimum lowest operating altitude: 500-1000 ft AMSL
- Payload : 900 kg -1200 kg
- Range at maximum payload: 2500 km
- (Endurance ~ 5 hr @ max. payload)
- Number of seats : 4-6
- Cruising Speed: 200 - 220 knots
- Sampling Speed: 80-120 m/s
- Ascent rate : 400 - 500 ft /min
Atmospheric parameters to be measured
- State parameters
- Cloud Microphysics
- Trace Gases
To understand the atmospheric processes in the lower atmosphere, utilization of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is also explored. This will be an institutional activity under NFAR.
- The research aircraft to be procured involve two stages. Firstly, the aircraft and the airborne instruments will be manufactured and secondly, the aircraft will be integrated with all these state-of-art instruments. Also, testing at various stages will be conducted and certification will be done before starting the operational research Sorties.A single UAV instrumented with aerosol, radiation and meteorological parameters is in the process of procurement. In the later stages, it is also planned to equip different UAVs with different sets of instruments for aerosols, radiation, clouds, fluxes and trace gases.
- Along with cloud microphysics instruments several aerosol, gas chemistry, radiation instruments, radar, lidar and dropsonde will be installed on-board for research purpose.
- All these instruments will not be operated simultaneously. Actual suite of instruments to be loaded/ operated during a data collection flight will be fixed in the aircraft according to scientific objective of the program. However, it is not advisable to remove instruments (e.g., radar) that require factory settings/ alignment. Also, some are needed for all programmes.
A national level Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) will be formed to govern the research activity. Members of the SAC will be national experts in specific scientific field
: such as microphysics, aerosols, chemistry, remote sensing, radiometers, etc. Also, some will be the flight operation experts, logistic experts, etc. SAC will be responsible for
- Call and review scientific research proposals for airborne research from various research institutes/universities
- Approve the proposed campaigns to be flown by NFAR
- Select the best project when calendar conflicts
- Advice for new research plans, instruments investments and all decisions which have an impact in the service of NFAR will be provided to the scientific community.
Utilization of Aircraft:
The research aircraft will be utilized throughout the year for different tasks such as
- June- September: During Monsoon season over Indian land mass region and adjacent seas
- October- November: Bay of Bengal for cyclone research
- Dec. – May: Himalayan, North India for aerosol and BC measurement
NFAR is a very important national facility that MoES is trying to establish leading to improved forecast of rainfall required by farmers.
The data collected through various missions under NFAR activity and subsequent research carried out will be beneficial to Indian Climate research program, India Meteorological Department (IMD), National Centre for Medium Range Forecasting (NCMRWF) for improving the cloud microphysical schemes in the numerical models. Other national research institutions and several universities will be benefited by getting involved in the observational programs.
Award of PhD degree
The thesis entitled "Study of cloud macro and micro physical properties and their response to aerosol from insitu and remote sensing techniques” Submitted by Mr. Harikishan Gandham under the guidance of Dr. B. Padma Kumari was awarded Ph.D degree by Savitribai Phule Pune University in August 2017.
ÜAS for Atmospheric Research
Project: National Facility for Airborne Research
Project Director: Dr. B. Padmakumari, Scientist-E
Dr. B. Padmakumari
Phone No - +91-(0)20-25904259
Dr. S. G. Narkhedkar
Phone No - +91-(0)20-25904238
Research Fellows :
Ms. Sneha Sunil
Senior Research Fellow
Project Assistants :
Sanket Vinod Kalgutkar
Mahesh Uttam Nikam