Dr. Balakrishnan Nair is presently, Scientist F and the Head of Ocean Science and Information Services at Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Government of India Hyderabad, India. He completed his Master degree in science (Marine Geology) from Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kerala with second rank and Ph D in Marine sciences from National Institute of Oceanography/Mangalore University.He is instrumental in setting up of an Ocean State forecast system and Information System for India and neighboring countries.
Balakrishnan Nair has developed Operational Ocean State Forecast system for safe navigations and operations at sea. From a modest beginning with a forecast system to predict the wind-waves in the open Ocean in 2006, he has been consistently improving the quality and width of the service. Now this service provides very high resolution forecasts of several ocean parameters such as wind-waves, sea surface currents, sea surface temperature, mixed layer depth and thermocline depth. The users of this service vary from traditional fishing to high-tech oil and gas exploration in the 2 million sq. km. of Indian EEZ. The contributions of Balakrishnan Nair have provided the country a place in the elite group of a few nations (USA, UK, France, Australia, Canada, Norway, Japan and China) with the capability to provide operational ocean forecast and information services. Feedback indicates that the forecast and High Wave Alerts especially during Cyclone Phailin and Hudhud helped immensely to reduce loss of life and property at Sea. UN praised the timely and accurate ocean information from INCOIS for Hudhud Management in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Read more..
Early warning systems for Oceanogenic Hazards
High waves, swells and wave surges are generated due to cyclones or monsoon winds and are hazardous to maritime users and coastal population. Waves of significant wave height more than 3 m are considered as High Waves. Swells are long-period (>8 s) remotely generated waves, and travel in groups. These ‘swell trains’ do not dissipate their energy significantly and can cause damage to the shore, ports and harbours and disturb the operations of oil and offshore industries. To ensure safe navigation and operations at sea, and to forewarn the users such as the fishermen community, Oil and Shipping industry, Ports and Harbours, Navy and Coast Guard on hazardous oceanic situations a High Wave prediction System is established at Indian National Centre for ocean Information Services (ESSO-INCOIS). The prediction system include a suite of third-generation spectral wind–wave models such as WAVEWATCH III, SWAN and SW model which takes into account all the important phenomena like wave growth by influence of wind, nonlinear wave–wave interaction, dissipation of wave energy due to white-capping, bottom friction and depth-induced wave breaking, refraction and shoaling due to depth variations and wave current interaction. A network of wave rider buoy also established for real time validation of the predictions. Models are forced by the wind forecast data.
INCOIS issue early warning for High waves based on the maximum heights of the forecast waves at a distance of one degree from the coastline. Accordingly, the High Wave Alert (waves between 2.5-3.0m & swell waves between 1.5-2.0m) or High Wave Warning (waves greater than 3.0m or swells greater than 2.0m) are issued. In addition to this the cyclone warning from India Meteorological Department (IMD) is also incorporated with this bulletins to provide a joint INCOIS -IMD bulletin for maritime users. This forewarning is disseminated well in advance to all the diverse users (ranging from fishing to shipping communities) through a multi-mode dissemination system. Most of the activities by the users, especially the fishermen communities are restricted to one degree (approximately 110 km) from the shoreline. Southern Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Lakshadweep Islands, and western coasts of Andaman & Nicobar Islands are the coastlines where the maximum number of alerts/warnings are being issued annually. The maximum Alerts/warning were given during the onset of southwest monsoon period, when the sea conditions are very rough. The high wave warning during Cyclonic Storm Phailin, Hudhud, Nilofar and Ashooba were more than 90% accurate and found to be extremely useful for reducing the loss of life and property at Sea. ESSO-INCOIS also issues warnings to the ships in the high seas, during such extreme conditions and also provide Inland Vessel Limit (IVL) forecast for Maritime Boards.
Long period swells originating from southern Indian ocean and southern ocean hit Indian coast and when it coincide with the spring tides, waves surge to low lying coasts. ESSO-INCOIS is developing a forecasting system for warning the wave surges, locally (in Kerala) know as Kallakadal. ESSO-INCOIS has also deployed a network of wave rider buoys, coastal and ship based Automatic Weather stations, to monitor the high wave and also to validate the High wave forecasts. ESSO-INCOIS is increasing the resolution of the forecast models and expanding the network of observations to provide very accurate ocean state forecast during cyclones and other extreme events.