May 5, 2009

Indian Ocean Buoy Project To Be Completed By 2010

Scientists are hoping a new set of buoys in the Indian Ocean will provide farmers with information that can better predict monsoons in some of the world's most underdeveloped regions.

Michael McPhaden of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the international project consists of buoys that will gauge wind, rainfall and temperature in the Indian Ocean, where data collection has been sparse in comparison to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Researchers began the project in 2004. So far, 22 buoys have been placed in the Indian Ocean, and plans for an addition 24 by 2010 are in order, said McPhaden, of the NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

The project is targeted at providing farmers with the most reliable monsoon information to date.

"We want to improve computer models for seasonal forecasting to benefit farming communities and other weather-sensitive sectors of society," McPhaden said.

"If you know it's going to be a year of heavy rain or deficient rain, there are different seeds you can plant, different timings and types of fertilizer," he told AFP. "There are all types of strategies you can implement."

It is estimated that about one third of the world population is dependent on monsoon rains that originate from the Indian Ocean.

The new international buoy team consists of researchers from Australia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan and the United States, along with a coalition of eight African nations.

McPhaden added that the project would provide researchers in the US with more reliable data on extreme weather patterns since the Indian Ocean has an impact on the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.


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