Wednesday, January 8, 2014

System of phone alerts could warn of extreme weather in India

Terra Daily: Computer scientists in India have created image-based mobile phone alerts for extreme weather they say could prevent casualties in cyclones.

When Cyclone Phailin hit India in late 2013 it was the largest storm to batter the subcontinent in over a decade, affecting more than 12 million people in India and neighboring countries and requiring mass evacuations.

The scale of the evacuations revealed an urgent need for an effective alert system that could forewarn the majority of the population, the scientists said. A paper published in Atmospheric Science Letters details how the researchers were able to track its genesis, progression and landfall using the country's Weather Research and Forecasting system.

Converting this information into images suitable for phones yielded a forecasting and warning system accessible to ordinary citizens, they said.

"Cyclone alerts can save lives and property, but must be easily accessible," researcher Sat Ghosh said. "The global perception of India's emerging IT prowess is lopsided. It is thought of as merely a manufacturing hub; however, our article puts the country's numerical literacy to practical use."...

Teenagers on a cell phone in Kolkata, shot by Biswarup Ganguly, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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