India’s first Cloud Physics laboratory at Mahabaleshwar
It is to study formation of clouds and their interaction with the environment is taking shape at the popular hill station of Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra
. The High Altitude Cloud Physics Laboratory started functioning from an IMD office in the hill station about 100 km from Pune. The location of the research centre, about 1,500 m above the mean sea level, would give scientists an opportunity to study the clouds and study its interaction with the environment. “The lab will be equipped with a large number of state-of-the-art equipment to measure all the micro-physical properties of the clouds and rain as well as environmental conditions such as the aerosols, winds, temperature, humidity at high temporal intervals. Mahabaleshwar offers a unique location for the experiment at the hill station receives nearly 500 mm of rains every year while the surrounding plains are usually drought prone.
Satara district, where the hill station is located is experiencing one of the worst droughts of recent times. Weather scientists have been by flying an aircraft fitted with observation instruments inside clouds to study how the aerosols in the atmosphere influence the cloud formation and bring rain. There were, however, limitations on the number of samples taken on cloud properties and other environmental parameters due to the number of flights that can be carried out, officials said. They said it was necessary to set up a lab where long term continuous measurements of clouds could be made and where clouds were found at the ground level. Construction of the laboratory is expected to start after the monsoons in October, and is likely to be completed by June next year