The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad has launched a trio of products to better cater to its diverse users. INCOIS provides a number of free services for users in the marine realm. The institute is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. INCOIS prioritises requests for specific services from its diverse user community that ranges right from fishermen to offshore oil exploration industries.
One of these new products is the Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS), to improve operations on the numerous small marine vessels, particularly fishing vessels that ply the coastal waters of India.
The Swell Surge Forecast System was also launched, which will provide forewarnings for the coastal population of India’s vast shoreline, which experiences a slew of damages caused by the swell waves that actually originate from the distant southern Indian Ocean.
The final new product in this trio is the Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS), providing timely information on harmful algal blooms, which are detrimental to coastal fisheries and also tend to induce respiratory problems within the coastal population from time to time.
All three products focus on significantly reducing damage and losses for service/product users and the coastal population. Following are the details of each product:
Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS): The Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVA) is an innovative impact-based advisory and forecast service system for small vessels operating in Indian coastal waters. The SVA system warns users about potential zones where vessel overturning can take place, ten days in advance. The advisories are valid for small vessels of beam width up to 7 m. This limit covers the entire range of beam widths of the fishing vessels used in all the 9 coastal states and union territories of India. The warning system is based on the ‘Boat Safety Index’ (BSI) derived from wave model forecast outputs such as significant wave height, wave steepness, directional spread and the rapid development of wind at sea which is boat-specific.
Swell Surge Forecast System: Swell surge forecast system is an innovative system designed for the prediction of Kallakkadal/Swell Surge that occurs along the Indian coast, particularly the west coast. Kallakadal/Swell surge are flash-flood events that take place without any noticeable advance change in local winds or any other apparent signature in the coastal environment. Hence the local population remains totally unaware of these flooding events until they actually occur. Such events are intermittent throughout the year. Kallakkadal is a colloquial term used by Kerala fishermen to refer to the freaky flooding episodes and in 2012 UNESCO formally accepted this term for scientific use. During Kallakkadal events, the sea surges into the land and inundates vast areas. These events have attracted attention especially after the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, since most people mistake Kallakkadal to be Tsunamis. Tsunami and Kallakkadal/Swell surge are two different types of waves with entirely separate causes or mechanisms. Kallakkadal are caused by meteorological conditions in the Southern Ocean, south of 30°S. A study by INCOIS scientists has revealed that specific meteorological conditions in the Southern Indian Ocean support the generation of long period swells. These swells once generated, travel northward and reach the Indian coasts in 3-5 days time, creating havoc in the coastal areas. The system will now predict Kallakkadal and warnings will be given to concerned authorities at least 2-3 days in advance, which will help the local authorities for contingency plans and to reduce damage.
Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS): The increasing frequency of algal blooms is a major concern due to its ill effects on fishery, marine life and water quality. INCOIS has developed a service for “Detection and Monitoring of Bloom in the Indian Seas”. The target users are fishermen, marine fishery resource managers, researchers, ecologists and environmentalists. The service also complements INCOIS’ marine fishing advisories i.e. Potential Fishing Zone advisories. INCOIS-ABIS will provide near-real time information on spatio-temporal occurrence and spread of phytoplankton blooms over the North Indian Ocean. Accordingly, relevant data retrieved from satellites i.e. Sea Surface Temperature , chlorophyll-a, Algal Bloom Index – chlorophyll, rolling chlorophyll anomaly, rolling sea surface temperature anomaly, phytoplankton class/species, phytoplankton size class and a composite image delineating bloom and non-bloom regions will be disseminated daily through ABIS. In addition, four regions have been identified as bloom hotspots viz. a) North Eastern Arabian Sea b) coastal waters off Kerala c) Gulf of Mannar and d) coastal waters of Gopalpur.