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India's storm warning device: mobiles

London, Feb. 2: Indians could be warned of an impending storm surge caused by an approaching cyclone via instantaneous text messages flashed to millions of mobile phones, an Indian delegate attending the climate change conference in Exeter in the UK said today.

'The technology for this is there ' it's do-able,' according to Prof. Anand Patwardhan, executive director of the Technology Information Forecasting Assessment Council (TIFAC) in Delhi, which is part of the department of science and technology.

Patwardhan said many scientists are predicting a temperature rise of between 1 degree Celsius and 3 degrees Celsius in India, which would be harmful for agriculture in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of the country that are 'critically dependent' on the monsoon.

Patwardhan, who has taken leave from his teaching post at the Indian Institute of Management in Mumbai, said the conference in Exeter had thrown up new scientific data on global warming.

The three-day conference, Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: A Scientific Symposium on Stabilisation of Greenhouse Gases, called by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is being held at the British Meteorological Office's brand-new Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter. About 300 experts from around the world are attending it.Patwardhan said India should take urgent steps to build up resilience to cyclones and that such measures would help tackle the consequences of global warming in the long run.

The measures he recommended include putting in place sand dunes or mangroves swamps and other vegetation along vulnerable stretches of the country's coastline in Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, South 24 Parganas in West Bengal and in Orissa. The western coast of India was better protected, he said, 'except for sections of Kutch and Saurashtra in Gujarat'.

Patwardhan, who has the same name as the distinguished film maker ('sometimes I get his email'), today addressed

The conference which is taking the subject of climate change much more seriously in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster.

'The two things are not connected,' Patwardhan pointed out, 'but there is a new urgency in tackling disaster management'. In India, while many climate models were forecasting temperature rises of 1-3 degrees Celsius, it was proving much harder to predict how rainfall would be affected, he added.

It was not enough to build early warning systems for cyclones and now for tsunamis, he went on. The information had to be interpreted correctly and then speedily given to the masses through mobile telephones, satellite radios (which many fisherman already possess) and 'a multiplicity of sources'.The subject of disaster warnings would be discussed at a conference held by his organisation in Delhi on February 17 and 18, Patwardhan added.

British research at the Hadley Centre in Exeter covers many areas of climate change, but in particular focuses on what level greenhouse gas concentrations could rise to, before running the risk of major changes to the Earth's climate system.

 

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