New U.S. - India 'Monsoon Agreement' to Improve Global Seasonal Climate Forecasts

November 10, 2010

Torrential rains caused flooding in Bangladesh on June 11, 2007.

Torrential rains caused flooding in Bangladesh on June 11, 2007.

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President Obama and India’s Prime Minister Singh will enter into a new collaborative agreement between NOAA and the India Ministry of Earth Sciences that aims to improve India’s monsoon forecasts. The agreement is part of a series of food security agreements formalized this week during the president’s visit.

India experiences monsoon weather, typically resulting in six months of rain beginning in early June. But it is difficult to predict when the monsoon will begin, how strong it will be or when it will end – information that can help plan for seasonal crops and project surface water supplies. In addition to the regional impacts, the Indian Ocean-Asia monsoon system represents one of the largest weather and climate features in the world, transporting energy between the northern and southern hemispheres and impacting weather and climate throughout the world.

“The Monsoon Agreement, by striving to improve long-range monsoon prediction, holds great potential to improve the well-being of the people of India, while also benefitting the United States and other nations through improvements in their own seasonal climate forecasts,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA looks forward to this new relationship with the Ministry of Earth Sciences for the mutual benefit of our nations.”

Under the agreement, the U.S. will create a monsoon forecast desk at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, part of NOAA’s National Weather Service in Camp Springs, Md. Visiting atmospheric scientists from India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences will collaborate with NOAA scientists to share knowledge and skills to improve the Climate Forecast System (CFS) for long-range forecasts of the monsoon.

The CFS is the backbone of seasonal climate forecasts in the United States and under the agreement, the United States will also provide the CFS to India and provide technical training to visiting scientists so they can implement it in their home country. Collaboration will also focus on the Global Forecast System for improving short-range monsoon forecasts in the Southwest United States.

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