EDITORIAL: Antiquated system

Nepal should also launch a communication/weather satellite utilizing the orbital slot allotted to it by the International Telecommunication Union in 1984

To many Nepalese it may appear that Nepal’s weather forecasting has improved somewhat in accuracy over the years.

That may well be so, but for the very short range often depending on the forecasts of foreign countries. But to those Nepalese who come to know that the same weather forecasting system has been in place for the past fifty-four years, it may well appear to be an extension of Nepali way of doing things where in most important areas things do not tend to change for the better soon.

But the fact that Nepal has been doing with just a 24-hour short-range forecasting system since 1962 AD may even shock many Nepalese. Even the better short-range system can predict weather for three days.

This system is reported to give 75 per cent forecasting accuracy, whereas the High Performance Computer Modelling System which most countries have adopted can provide up to 100 per cent accuracy.

The weather data Nepal collects is sent for analysis by other countries, thus causing a delay of three to four hours in forecasting.

According to meteorological expert Mani Ratna Shakya, Bhutan and Nepal are the only two countries which still use the short-range weather forecasting system and that India and Bangladesh, for example, fly radiosonde balloons twice a day to collect accurate weather data.

However, we have to take some heart so late that the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology is planning to bring in weather radars and radiosonde balloons in two years to improve the accuracy of our weather forecasts.

Many countries, including advanced countries and China, operate long-range prediction systems using state-of-the-art computer modeling system that can predict weather up to three months; medium-range prediction systems can forecast weather up to ten days; and short-range prediction systems can predict weather for three days.

The antiquated weather forecasting systems have cost the country dear all these years.

Accurate weather prediction well in advance alerts the authorities and the people and all agencies concerned, giving them ample time to avoid natural disasters or to minimize their impact, such as floods and landslides, hurricanes, avalanches and snow-storms, including the likely effects of weather changes caused by conditions beyond Nepal’s territory because weather does not respect air spaces of countries.

In recent times also, this lack of modern technology and the resulting lack of reliable weather information, made worse by the lack of responsibility on the part of the government authorities, have cost hundreds of lives, including those on the high mountain trails and the Himalayas.

For example, the inability to correctly assess the impact of the Hud Hud cyclone that swept into Nepal from Andhra Pradesh in India and the inability to relay the information to all those concerned caused dozens of deaths.

Nepal should also launch a communication/weather satellite utilizing the orbital slot allotted to it by the International Telecommunication Union in 1984 in order to collect more data which are much more reliable.

The government has not done it yet citing the cost constraint running to Rs. 30 billion just for its launch. The huge benefits that will accrue from such a satellite should be seriously considered.

Pollution concerns

Studies have shown that Kathmandu Valley is one of the most air polluted cities in the world. This raises concern about the health of the denizens ofthe Valley.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that Bhaktapur has a higher air pollution level than Kathmandu. This month of Baisak, the average level of pollution of Bhaktapur was recorded to be 83 microgram per cubic meter and that of Kathmandu 63 microgram per cubic meter.

Maintaining a standard of 40 microgram per cubic meter is a must for the protection of the health for the city residents. Experts believe that this is so because of the numerous brick kilns operating in Bhaktapur.

Other sources of air pollution are the use of partially burnt wood and coal and also the emissions from vehicles running on petrol and diesel.

The recording machines show the air pollution level rising from 6.00 am and dropping from 12 pm.

School children and the elderly are most prone to the harmful effects on their health due to air pollution as the children go to school early in the morning.